A metropolitan city in Nigeria, West Africa with the largest concentration of Danfo buses.
A 15-seater bus usually painted yellow with black stripes that is used as the means of transportation by more than 60% of people living in Lagos.
Going by stories that have been passed down from generations before me; living in Lagos was as simple as – Getting a house, getting a job, car and every other thing that was seen as a necessity to guarantee comfort.
The story changes when you fail to get a car, you resort to danfos. Unlike other metropolitan cities, danfos are the mainstay of transportation system (unlike cities where you have all kinds of trains) and for a first time Lagosian or someone who’s new to commuting with public transportation its important that you know the rules and regulations that govern your conduct with the four edges of the yellow and black boxes called danfos.
Don’t expect the conductor to be courteous. Nope, courtesy doesn’t exist in the official garage dictionary™ – an imaginary never-seen-before document that states how the business of driving and allied activities should be conducted. Conductors are so rude that it would take an extraordinary level of patience to make sure you don’t hurl insults back at them.
Be Multilingual. At all times, you must be able to switch from cussing in Yoruba to pidgin and back to Yoruba and then Igbo… Until you’re sure everyone in the bus has heard your punchlines. If not, how do you want the fat woman with coloured paintings on her face like a Benin woman to laugh at your jokes when she only comprehends Yoruba?
Always have your earphones on you at all times. Like it or not, having good headphones would save you a lot of headache and pills. Most danfos are so noisy that you would thing the poor thing was going to rip apart the next minute. So to save yourself all the pressure of thinking about what could go wrong, get yourself good quality headphones.
Mind the kind of clothes you wear. Danfos for all they care are merely objects in motion that transport passengers from point A to point B. So you do not expect the driver to spend his hard earned money on improving the interior of the bus (the bus might not even belong to him). So in order not to be caught unawares, avoid wearing clothes that easily get stained or torn. Leave your fancy at the door of the bus. You’ve been warned.
Bring the change you want to see. In Lagos garages, change is constant. There’s nothing like bringing out a ₦1000 note because you want to impress the lady sitting next to you – she will leave you. Bringing change to the bus could save you anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes of waiting time, coupled with insults from the driver and conductor. In fact, sometimes they even deny you even gave them more than the required transport fare.
Hope for the best, but expect the worst. In a perfect world, you go to the garage; enter a bus, pay your fare and you’re taken to your destination (or somewhere close) without fear of being stopped halfway because we expect that the driver or whoever owns the bus, must have spent quality time at the mechanic fixing and servicing any parts of the car that require servicing. That’s not how Lagos danfos operate. It is totally normal for a bus going from Ojuelegba to Apapa to stop at Costain and tell you the vehicle has refused to start or it has “failed brakes”. Totally normal.
Know the lingua franca. Don’t be a victim of ignorance, your ignorance will not go unpunished. Know the difference between “èma wolé” and “wó lè”. Don’t be like the lady that entered a bus going to CMS when she was heading to Obalende. Costly mistakes happen when you don’t know the lingo.
Always know the time of the day. At any point in time, you must be able to determine the estimated volume of traffic. Learn the “drive against traffic rule”. For example, during morning “rush hours” traffic moves from Ojota, Maryland etc towards the Island; but during the evenings traffic moves from the Island, towards Maryland.
Do not complain. If you enter a bus and you’re tempted even by the devil himself to complain about the poor condition of the bus, please by any means possible, overcome it. You don’t want to hear how you’re the cause of Nigeria’s economic “backwardness” or how you won’t get married on time because of your “arrogance” and “bad manners”. The bus is a means of transportation, not your sitting room.
One last thing, if you’ve taken a particular route more than once, try and make friends with the garage touts. Being razz is the new cool.
Until next time, happy commuting.
Meanwhile here’s a new mix I put out over the weekend
The Heavy Rotation Mixes Volume 4 – DOWNLOAD IT HERE