Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Kudos to Danfo Drivers 

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Easter is around the corner again! And it’s cool to look forward to a sweet, long weekend. Of course, the feeling of celebration is already in the air. Something like some of us have been fasting for quite a while?

Huh! Whether you’re a faithful Lent-er or a cool feast-er, it’s another wonderful season of the year! What a great time to connect with friends and loved ones! No doubt, most of us will be going out with our family and friends, to different places for different activities in celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Quick to add, Happy Easter to all!

Now point of reminder: we’ll need some kind of transport or another. Whether we would be travelling by air, water, rail or something, our transport on Nigerian roads will be the final link to most of our interactions – no be so? Of course, some of us “big men” will go out in our Range-Rovers, Bentleys, Rolls-Royce, Land Cruiser etc. OK – we may decide to put “bigmanism” aside this Easter. Y-es. I mean some of us can decide to just be cool and simple, putting our private “road-craft” aside, for public transport – maybe the likes of our Lagos government-powered Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service.

But to say the truth, majority of us would go to various venues of Easter celebration in public commercial vehicles – particularly the “danfos”! No wahala, sha. Just that I’d like to speak in favour of your all-important danfo drivers and their able assistants – the bus conductors. These honourable transporters are doing a great job! Yes oo!

Without any official supervision, these hardworking public servants resume to duty sometimes as early as 4.30am. Can you beat that!? And one funny thing is – these transporters serve all sectors of the Nigerian workforce. Think about it: we just walk down the bus-stops expecting these transport people to be there waiting for our arrival! Well, most of us have trouble relating to these transport merchants. All the same, these danfo people are trying oo! Abi wetin you talk?

You see, just think about how committed the danfo driver is… He is ever in love with the steering and the gear box, piloting the vessel with considerable alertness – at least to obey the orders of the bus conductors, who uses both verbal communication and “knocking/beating” communication on the vehicle’s body, to demand “stops” and “carry-go’s”!

If you care to know, you’d be surprised that the pilot makes A LOT of sacrifice. As a rule, he takes his meals while serving the ever-demanding commuters, thanks to snacks and drinks sellers. And of course, he’s got to be very watchful against possible ‘attacks’ from unfriendly, opportunistic – ‘merciless’ – uniformed men… This thing no dey eazy at all, at all!

You see, very few human beings can beat the ruggedness and resilience of the danfo conductor. He is ever enthusiastic, consistently announcing the destination of the road-craft – “Ikeja, ’Keja!” And quite sacrificially, he imposes a permanent standing ovation on himself, while making snacks and carbonated drinks his meals as the day’s business unfolds.

Wait a minute! Who says the danfo conductor is an “illiterate”? Ha! It’s not true oo! The guy who collects different Nigerian “money” from the passengers and intelligently computes the “balance” – as the case may be – is not illiterate. (Well, he needs improvement. Not to worry. I’d soon make few suggestions that could help him provide better services. Just permit me to praise him a little further.)
Most of the time, the danfo conductor is very persuasive, doing everything possible in getting the customer to pick up the ticket from him… Now take a look at the two business partners I’ve been praising. They have a way of coping with many hardships together. Fuel scarcity, intrusion and embarrassments from uniformed and mufti-wearing touts, and so much more!

Even when there are just a handful of passengers on the highway, these guys are there – not only to make money – but to fulfil their honourable service of giving a ride to WHOEVER – to their desired destination! And in cases of lone drivers combining piloting with customer relations, you know what a task it is! (Please drop this thing in your hand and clap for them, jare!)

My Naija people, how best can we appreciate these honourables? The most appropriate way, I suppose, is to join hands in raising our own standard of living. You see, if our collective attitudes, expectations and treatment of fellow Nigerians change, then things will change indeed. Whichever way you think, please let’s redefine transport services in Nigeria. I mean, it can be ‘honourable indeed’ to be a transporter.

Well, the issues are many and sensitive. But this is a very important reminder: these danfo drivers and conductors are human beings too. Let’s learn to appreciate them. I suggest our dear governors and other government people make things better for our transport workers. Many of our roads need complete reconstruction, not maintenance.

Hehn-hehn! Government should make it compulsory for all conductors to stop the needless standing ovation; a seat in the road-craft shall forever be reserved for the honourable public relations officer! That would be nice, right?

I believe our financial institutions, the government, and the danfo people’s union – huh! transport workers’ union – the NURTW* – can join hands in putting better vehicles on Nigerian roads. But listen. The issues aren’t just matters of infrastructure. Ethical behaviours amongst transport workers are very important.

Oga Driver and Mr. Conductor, please learn to be polite to the passengers – na dem be customers oo; na dem dey pay the money – no be so? Please respect your passengers, OK? How about proper dressing of danfo people? I’d suggest the NURTW put a public announcement forward, stating acceptable standard of dressing for transport workers. Advice noted, abi? (What a wonderful Nigeria it would be if we got to the highway one day and saw all danfo drivers and conductors well dressed! It is possible!)

Hmm! I didn’t come here to lecture these people. The emphasis today is respect and commendation for our honourable danfo drivers and conductors. After all, they earn their living through legitimate means. I hope they too would treat “the customer” with more respect, henceforth.
“…give respect and honour to all who deserve it… LOVE does no harm to anyone… If you love your neighbour, that would mean you have fully obeyed God’s righteous law.”# That is a good summary of my talk-talk.
Happy Easter!