07 Nov

Driving – maybe a typical journey?

Over the past few weeks I have been to Abuja and back 3 times. Not such a big deal on the whole, different routes, different passengers. I enjoy driving and talking with people.

One of the challenges here is being stopped by the vehicle inspection officers, or police, or whoever else. One journey I got fined for not having one particular piece of paper that showed the change of ownership of the vehicle I was driving. It not being my car, I hadn’t look through the papers closely enough to check what was there, so he fined me.

It is rubbish, but sometimes it isn’t worth the fight. But sometimes it is.

A different journey, I was stopped but a particular set of people and they were checking that people had a copy of the highway code in the car. It was our understanding that you didn’t’ need to carry a copy of it, but this guy was insistent. I offered to take a test, and the officer’s questions was “ How many corners are there between Kano (north) and Lagos (very south)?” A distance of several hundred miles. I laughed and said I had no idea. The officer responded say there are only 2; Left hand corners and right hand corners.

Needless to say, I laughed! The officer told me that clearly I didn’t know the book and that I needed to buy one from him. I insisted that I didn’t and eventually I had to call a barrister that I know to tell the guy to let us go. But 30 minutes of lost time sat in a hot car is not fun for anyone.

That same journey we were outside Abuja at a petrol station. We had been in line for only a short amount of time, but the van in front of us had got filled up, appeared to have paid for it… but he wasn’t moving. People started shouting, someone started pulling their car out, people started fighting, I was looking around wondering if we could get out of there if things got worse. Eventually, the fight stopped and the guy gets in the car and headed out. While receiving my fuel, I asked the girl at the pump what it was all about. Turns out she didn’t have the exact change – N30 (12p) to be precise – and the guy wasn’t moving his van until he got it.

It is not uncommon for people to have to send for change, and it is not uncommon for you to move away from the pump until they bring the change. No-one knows why the guy in the van was so grumpy, but it was also hilarious to the 5/6 guys hanging around after the occasion do a post-match analysis of the whole situation.

Just another typical day driving!

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