Passing time in Lagos traffic

Time moves slowly but passes quickly. How you observe it all depends on what you did with that time.

Just a few weeks back, I found myself in a familiar situation, Lagos traffic, which can be a frustrating way to spend time. This particular one was turning out to be very frustrating until I found a hack which I will share shortly.

If you’ve never been stuck in Lagos traffic, lucky you. The traffic congestion in Lagos is one of a kind. I’ve once found myself in a five-hour standstill where people got out of their vehicles to engage in a lot of activities like eating, barbing or dancing to loud music.

Lagos and traffic congestion are like 5 & 6.

On that fateful day, I needed to get to Lagos Island, so I hopped on a commuter bus and got on the way. The journey was going smoothly without any stops until we ran into traffic on the Third Mainland bridge.

The entire 11.8km length of the bridge was packed with vehicles at standstill. Every two minutes there would be tiny movements but that was it. It was clear that I was in for a long ride.

It would have been a good time to scroll through social media or watch videos on YouTube, but my phone battery was flat. I also didn’t have any books that I could read to pass the time. I was getting bored and angry at the same time.

All the people around me were either staring at their phone screens or taking a nap. I didn’t feel like sleeping either. There wasn’t much happening on the Lagoon save for fishermen casting their nets for a morning catch. That seemed interesting at first till the activity became monotonous to me.

Next, I started looking for milestones. Since movement was slow, I’d look for a pole, building or signboard ahead and mark it as a sign of progress. Once our bus got to that mark, I’d celebrate and pick another milestone. It seemed to work at first, but I later got bored again.

As I looked around for something else that might interest me, the lane to my left moved a few meters ahead, and my eyes caught something. It was a sleek new Lexus LX 600. “This must be a new model,” I said to myself. Then a thought came to me. “Why not take note of all the car brands and models on the bridge? That should be enough to cure my boredom,” I thought.

Luckily, I had a pen a hotter with me, so I got started. That seemed to do the trick for me. I have always known that Toyota is the most used car brand in Lagos, but my impromptu car survey gave me further proof. I discovered at least 16 different Toyota models, which was the highest of all the car brands I saw.

By the time we got to the end of the bridge and out of the traffic congestion, we had spent a little over one hour and I didn’t even notice. Those activities I engaged myself with really helped.

Here’s a summary of what worked for me.

Pick a milestone: Look for interesting landmarks on the road to mark progress and pick a new one every time.

Take note of the tiniest details: You would be amazed at the depth of your power of observation. Just pay attention, you will find something interesting.

Reflect on life: We hardly have time to meditate because we’re always so busy making ends meet. Use this time to self-reflect and make critical life decisions.

Next time you find yourself in traffic, whether in Lagos or any other part of the world, you can try my hacks or get more creative. Whatever you find yourself doing to pass time in traffic, I wish you journey mercies.




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