Nigerians who break traffic rules to have their heads examined
While many people may agree that you would need your head examined to drive in the wrong direction down a one-way street in Nigeria's mega-city Lagos, few expected to see it enshrined in law.
Ignoring road signs in the sprawling lagoon city can already earn you a fine of £100. But now you could be sent for a psychiatric evaluation, too, as the commercial capital of Africa's most populous nation tries to end the practice of wrong-way driving.
Lagos traffic is legendary and locals' efforts to escape it are by turns inspired and terrifying. VIP convoys that thunder along the crumbling spurs of bridges that criss-cross the lagoon often hire traffic police to ride shotgun and clear the way for them.
The city's "go slows" are such a feature of life that entire street markets spring up daily to supply every conceivable need of those stuck in the traffic jam, from the latest bootlegged Nollywood movies to religious self-help books. Gangs of street children lay sand traps in unpaved areas and then charge stranded motorists for the pleasure of being dug out. Motorcycle taxis that swarm all over the city deploy the same horns as big trucks to scare people out of the way.
Most Lagos residents are not intimidated easily though, with taxi drivers often abandoning their fares to berate armed traffic police, who can then respond by letting down the tyres of offenders to stop them from driving off or attempting to run them over. Most drivers in Lagos – knowing that those with money will side-step the law – dismiss the psychiatric evaluations as another layer of bureaucracy to contend with.
Traffic police often solicit bribes from passing cars by asking for "something for the weekend". Motorists who want to contest the fine and trip to the shrink could face an increased levy of £1,000 and still have to do the psychiatric assessment anyway, officials say. The message is straightforward: if you violate one-way rules, "you should have your head examined", Sina Thorpe, from the Lagos state ministry of transportation, told The Wall Street Journal.
The latest effort against motorists who like to drive against the traffic is part of an on-again, off-again effort by the state Governor Babatunde Fashola to spruce up the chaotic and vibrant city. But it's a risky job – the Governor's office revealed earlier this year that 57 street sweepers have been crushed to death by people driving dangerously.
Yet the Lagos laws are still comparatively mild when put alongside draconian legislation in New Zealand, where wrong-way drivers can face a £6,500 fine or a five-year prison sentence.
As anti-Semitic attacks rise, Grant Feller re-evaluates his identity
Savoury patisserie is a thing now
Meet the primary school where every day is National Poetry Day
Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again
...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought
Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood
Striker ignored Brendan Rodger's request to applaud audience
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 4 Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Stella McCartney apologises over controversial 'very ill' model picture on Instagram
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Cheryl Cole named 'the most dangerous celebrity' on the internet
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£45 - £50 per day: Randstad Education Group: Job opportunities for SEN Teachin...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary teachers re...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Room Leader PositionI am currently ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery NurseI am currently...