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To be on Lagos roads, you need a bit of madness

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‘Lagos will not kill me and will also not kill you in Jesus’ name. Ah ah! Kilode!! O’gini! Menini! Why must one be subjected to all this stress because one decided to live in Lagos?’

These days, the above happen to be the kind of statements you hear from Lagos road users, who have been undergoing the most harrowing experience of their lives, no thanks to the failure of leadership of the three tiers of government.

For God’s sake, really, where is it written that to hustle in a city as large as Lagos, one must be subjected to the unbearable, traumatic experience that has become the order of the day?

To live in this so-called Center of Excellence with nearly everything in a state of chaos and anarchy, especially the road network, you have to develop some sort of thick skin to survive the stress level.

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In case you do not know, stress is a silent killer and life in Lagos today has been made more stressful with the madness on the roads.

Granted that stress is a normal reaction that comes from our evolutionary past, with the so-called “fight or flight” reaction said to have served our ancestors well; granted also that in our time, stress is triggered too often by emotions, simple problems, and situations that pose no threat, but the grinding pace of modern life is said to stream with repeated “stressors” that build up. And so the body reacts to stress as it distracts the mind and affects our health for the worse.

Obviously, when we are “stressed out,” and it’s usually a loud and clear message, we’re slowly killing ourselves. Health experts believe that stress is the body and mind’s reaction to new situations and problems.

“The body turns up the metabolism with a burst of energy and then braces to react. The mind becomes focused and vigilant. If there is danger, it is a good thing. If there is no danger, the result is unnecessary wear-and-tear. The damage is both psychological and physical when the body’s reactions don’t match the situation,” says a report of “Top Master’s in Healthcare Administration,” a resource for finding information related to healthcare management, among others.

The report indicates that during stress, the nervous system reacts with chemical releases, hormones prepare the brain for action as it draws more oxygen, muscles tighten, the heart beats harder, and breathing accelerates. The body also suppresses the immune, excretory, and reproductive systems, and it’s all to prepare for action.

The report further adds that a return to a normal state is drawn out when stress becomes routine, such as with job and family challenges. Recurring and overlapping difficult events can easily become chronic stress. Normal function does not return easily and in time, health deteriorates.

As it were, constant stress automatically takes its toll on the human body with headaches, sleeping problems, and back and stomach pains. And that is if you’re lucky because over a lifetime, stress can cause debilitating and life-threatening diseases, while existing conditions worsen as the immune system weakens. Mood disorders become more common and daily living suffers.

Still from the report, anxiety, lack of motivation, anger problems, depression, and antisocial behaviour can become problematic. And if you are the type who would see drugs, alcohol, and tobacco as an escape route [experts say that is a poor way to cope], they more often add to the stress.

The downward spiral begins to destroy personal and work relationships, and as long-term stress progresses, it physically manifests as disease. The most common result, as research shows, is high blood pressure that leads to cardiac diseases over time.

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Now, you can see how poor infrastructural development is helping to send many to their early grave, while government officials use sirens and air travel to manage their own stress!

I am very sure that if you should check the blood pressure of most people living in Lagos, especially those exposed to the madness that has taken possession of the few available roads that have not only collapsed but can’t even properly serve the good number of cars that ply them every day, the results might not be cheery.

Worse still is that most people don’t even know anything of this nor care to do periodic checks on the status of their health. But the fact remains that if stress is dominating your lifestyle, it’s time to reach out to a doctor or just anyone that might be of help.

On Lagos roads, today, almost everything works upside-down. And I mean right from when you get out of your house to when you finally reach your destination. At the end of it all, you are completely sapped of energy, which obviously negatively affects your level of productivity.

As a matter of fact, it has never been a bed of roses. Lagos roads, that is, but the situation has so deteriorated that these days you need very special kind of prayer and courage to hit the roads every day. If you are lucky, you meet just some mild drama but most times, it has been another level of tragic drama.

In fact, many have described those residing in Lagos as mad people because, to them, it takes someone with some level of madness to survive the crazy picture that Lagos roads present. Put differently, Lagosians, and by extension, Nigerians, must be the most resilient people on earth. So you can understand why Nigeria is also adjudged the third most dangerous place to live in the world, according to a report by InterNations.

It has become very tough navigating your way around the City of Excellence, which, by every standard, is mini Nigeria. The different elements that make your presence on these roads hellish are legion. Is it with the motorcycle riders, popularly known as Okada riders? Or the Keke (tricycle) riders you may well describe as senior cousins to the Okada riders?

Even the cart and wheel barrow pushers are also driving Lagos motorists crazy and out of the highways, where indiscriminately, like the Okada riders, they would be pushing their carts towards your moving car, thus causing severe obstructions.

And just wait for this. Should the cart pusher think you are an obstacle to him even when he is facing the wrong side of the road, he likely would block your car with the cart, or simply push it with the aim of hitting it. You can imagine the damage this will cause to your car.

Same thing with Okada riders, some of who have transformed to be riders of better registered OPay, or Gokada, or MaxOkada, all of which act like the motorcycle version of Uber but with very reckless riders said to actually be the former unregistered Okada riders!

Here I am thinking there was a time all these kinds of dangerous obstructions to motorists were banned on major highways in Lagos, with offenders adequately sanctioned. Today, these troublesome children of anger are so reckless, and with impunity, constituting serious danger to law abiding road users. And you know what? They all get away with this serious traffic offences because ours is a collapsed system.

Also, truck drivers and many rickety vehicle drivers make driving in Lagos today a miserable exercise. Just imagine driving out of Ogudu Road in Ojota area of Lagos, for instance. And having battled all the Kekes that now flocked into the area like bees after honey, and just when you turn to join the popular Ikorodu Road, a LAWMA truck, or a commercial bus and mostly an Okada or Keke rider may just be recklessly driving towards you, on the wrong way, so much that if you do not act quickly, you might run into another car because you never expected to see any such thing.

So much recklessness with impunity! It is that bad and the disorderliness is common sight in practically all parts of the metropolis. The madness and confusion on Lagos roads on a very bad day are palpable.

And as you think you’ve scaled through, your next hurdle would be to be trapped in severe pockets of traffic gridlocks caused mostly by potholes that dot all the major roads in the city and the irresponsible driving in vogue here.

And more so, by what is said to be many road rehabilitation works going on almost at the same time in Lagos. In fact, some are even abandoned after the roads had been damaged more than they were before.

And here, siren blaring set of lawless drivers, who it seems, would want you to carry your car on your head to make way for them in the mad traffic, add to the stress level, terrorizing the long-suffering road users also trying to find their way around.

Indeed, movement around Lagos today is to many people not just an arduous task but a very strenuous one that no matter what means of transportation you choose to travel with, you always return feeling completely drained.

Now, tell me how much a people that go through all these pains, daily, either to go to work, meet up with appointments and meetings, among others, can eventually put into work? And we are still wondering why we are not making much progress as a nation.

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