I must’ve passed this route over 1000 times before the last three years of my life. I could walk it in blindfold.
Within the last three years of my life, I must’ve passed this route just 100 times, give or take.
I’ve watched the policemen there. They piss me off.
I’ve seen them pretend to check licences but actually checking if you can give them shandy.
No shandy equals an unmerited delay as favour for daring to not bribe.
So, drivers would rather pay. Conductors would rather cajole or tease the drivers to pay.
The morality of, “Thou shalt not give bribe” falls flat on its face as passengers would yell, “Give am N20 naa make we comot for here.”
Some of these passengers took high moral grounds when they’re not commuting. But in a commute, they’ll go down low.
Something interesting happened about 3–5 years ago.
The policemen on this route stopped demanding for N20 and…just wait for it!
They started demanding for N50.
The drivers, conductors and passengers complied and agreed (perhaps with implied duress) to pay.
Something happened last week.
I was in a bus heading home. I had gone to see an entrepreneur who is physically small but has a smart brain I was wow’d.
On that route, the conductor said, “I go pay them N100.” Then, he brought out a N100 note.
Lucky day, the policemen must’ve had a fill of taking bribes because they didn’t ask. The conductor didn’t give either. Ask not and you shall be given not.
I cursed the policemen that night. I’d like to think I don’t know why I didn’t.
But I do. They’re enhancing bribery and growing it. Over 300% growth in a decade. And there’s no one to stop them.
Not just yet.
That morning, the policeman at a bus stop pointed a rifle at the passengers because the driver refused to stop.
The woman beside me screamed, “Jesus!”
She didn’t want to die.
I guess I wanted to die because I didn’t scream.
Art Credit: Okwukwe