Let me even ask, who do you think the daredevils of public transport are? I know you’ll probably say okada riders…hmm, or maybe conductors? I am here to tell you that the real daredevils are the people who are not even involved in driving, the AGBEROS (touts). And if you really think about it, you’ll see my point.
Now, who are they? Simply put, they are the tax collectors of road transport workers. Most of them are affiliated with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), a private association that collects tolls by any means necessary from all public transporters, particularly at various bus stops. I have no idea about how they share the money they collect in a day but, I heard that they submit the total at their offices at the end of the day and collect commissions. But with the extreme lengths they go to collect their money, it is either their commissions are a lot, or something is really wrong somewhere. Some others are just hustlers looking to make some quick cash, while some even work with the police to extort money from drivers.
These guys will do anything to get their money, and most drivers don’t even help matters by trying to dodge them. They are usually intoxicated for the most part so, they are capable of anything. From chasing down moving buses, to jumping on them while in motion, to fighting conductors (even while hanging on the door of a moving bus) and their fellow agberos because of money amongst other things. These people are singlehandedly responsible for the lack of right side mirrors on buses because once they notice the driver is trying to avoid payment, they either break it off, or break one of the windows, or even pull out the pipe in the fuel tank along with other ridiculous things. In times of traffic where transporters follow some inner roads, they set roadblocks along the way just to collect money and you’re definitely not going to pass unless you pay, sometimes even as a private car owner.
I am sure I have spoken about them previously in some posts but the experience I had on this day was my worst so far, maybe because it affected me directly. Normally, I watch the madness behind the scenes.
On this particular day, I took a bus from Onipanu bus stop to Orile. It was a sunny afternoon and I was going home after a long day of trekking due to the absence of bikes in the areas I went to. All I was thinking of was food and sleep. I didn’t know I should have thought of life and death.
We got to one bus stop before the national stadium to pick up passengers. Moments later, the conductor shouted at the driver to drive off quickly. We turned back and saw an agbero running towards us (obviously trying to get his money), but he couldn’t catch up. The conductor and his driver laughed, obviously feeling smart. They had no idea.
We stopped at stadium bus stop next and a new passenger, one man entered the front seat. The next thing that happened seemed unreal. As we were driving off, the man in front turned the vehicle off and started dragging the steering wheel with the driver. The bus kept swaying left and right and we almost hit about about 3 cars at once. The driver eventually parked and that was when we realised that the agbero they escaped from had signalled his colleague to collect the money.
All I wanted to do at that point was get off the bus because I didn’t want to risk my life over something so trivial. As I tried to get off the bus, the driver noticed a police van coming and zoomed off. I fell back and landed on the bus seat. Might have broken my butt honestly. They kept on dragging the steering wheel while he was driving on the bridge until the driver finally settled him and he got off.
I’m sure you think all this is crazy but, let me tell you the craziest part…. I WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO TRIED TO GET OFF THE BUS. Everybody else was just asking questions and keeping calm. It was almost like they were used to these situations. At one point, I even thought I was gonna get kidnapped because their calmness was unsettling.
I eventually got off the bus in one piece, Thank God. So, when I tell you agberos don’t play with their money, believe me. Most of them are high while working so, they don’t think much before they act. Luckily, they don’t have business with passengers so, you just have to mind your business lol.