That Day At The Motor Park


I dragged myself reluctantly from the taxi, paying the driver who appeared to be very much in a hurry to escape the noise and stench of the surrounding. However, I couldn’t blame him ‘cos, in his shoes, I would not have done better... but in my own case, I had no other choice. Worse still, I was to spend the two hours in this hell.

At this time of the day, the sun was still burning hot and I had the uneasy feeling of some fire down my neck. Looking around I picked up my bag and a small box, as I had already spent the previous day making my luggage as srnall as possible, and hurried to the next shelter. Around me was the scurry and scramble of the motor park life. Apparently, there was bustling activity on every inch of the park.

It was still too hot to go around for a bus, so I decided to take my well-earned rest. It was while I was refreshing myself with a bottle of coke that I pondered over the activities of the whole place. The motor park on its own is almost a city. At every corner there is one activity or the other. The peace is broken by the blaring horn and howling bus conductors hustling passengers into their separate buses, with false prophecies of a comfortable and trouble free journey at the minimum cost. At the same time, you are guaranteed quick and easy relief from the weight of your jewelry, watches, fat or slim wallets and other valuables.

The celebrated masters, arch rogues, small time pick pockets and criminals-in-training have a field day. The onlooker will marvel at the skill and expertize with which these men go about their “noble trade’. And this is not all; the fake but paid passengers and seat warmers are there to give the wrong impression of a full bus ready to leave, and of course the few fools till existing are deceived.

A large number of vehicles are either parked or in motion, oblivious to the countless heads going from one end of the park to the other, all in a hurry about nothing, and giving the whole park an aerial view of a disturbed anthill.

On the other side, there is a brisk business for hawkers who are engaged in every single line of trade from the sale of iced water of dubious purity to the minor shop owners, canteen proprietors and hoteliers. There are the all-purpose food stalls usually adjacent to the rubbish dump which are just hills of waste and garbage. Kitchens and fire places separate the improvised latrines from the eating sheds.

The main gutter runs right through, providing an easy means of disposing waste, and dirty water. Together with the heavily contaminated food, the visitor has the opportunity of enjoying the stinking odor of waste and excreta. This goes along with a meal the visitor is forced to share with nice big flies.

The activities of the motor park are unlimited. It is here you enjoy free shows in which promoters do not have to pay entertainment tax. Brawls and fights are the daily routine. Law is kept with sticks and fists. Both sexes engage in the free-for-all fights, and a visitor can always watch one at any day, independent of the situation.

The sun was now going down and it was getting less hot. Most of my companions and co-spectators under the shade had left, each going his own way. I had to stay on longer because the scene before me was getting more interesting to watch each minute... I told myself, hence I stayed on.

Buses, Danfos, Mammy Wagons and the smaller taxis were now moving in and out as the same time. Kennedy Airport could not have been busier than this at this time of the day. Everyone was either impatient to come in or to leave. Hawkers were running helter skelter advertising wares... someone would have asked “where’s the fire?”.

Passengers were alighting from the newly arrived buses and this, for me, was a time to survey their dusty faces. I paused to look at my watch, it was still a quarter to five.., again, I stayed on.

The next second, I was being helped along to a shabby looking mammy wagon which, apart from being innocent of soap and water, appeared to have seen worse days. It surely did not look strong enough to go another mile. Yet it was going to Lagos, or so they claimed. Before I could recover from my apprehension, box was already inside, and I was almost in!

My reaction was almost violent; the conductor was forced to help me out, adding a slight grunt of apology. It was enough for me as I was in no mood for arguments... so I just let it lie. Moreover, the time
was moving close to half past five, so I decided to look for a bus.

On seeing my intention, I was confronted by three conductors and each was hustling me into his own bus. May were the abuses exchanged within that period, and finally for fear of being torn apart, I quickly protested assuring each one I would pick my own bus. I finally ended up in GOD KNOWS BEST, a blue and red Toyota Coaster bus. I paid the moderate fare of one Naira and about ten minutes later, after we were rid of the last seat warmer, we left the motor park

It was getting fairly dark, and the whole scene was changing as the guards at Buckingham Palace. A stranger coming in at this time is welcomed by the cool evening air as if driving out the stench and foul air of the day. GOD KNOWS BEST was already on its way to Lagos.

The above is the reproduction of an article written by Kole Abe (Upper Six) and published in the GCI School Magazine, THE ROCK Vol XVIII No 1 of June 1974. He was the Chief Editor.

Culled from Camaraderie - 1968 Set Golden Anniversary Publication

Submitted By: 

ABE Olubankole
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