"if you're neatly dressed, and probably in a hurry, get a taxi."
During the 2 hour ride on the bus today, I thought long and hard about the buses in Jos, I wanted to find if there was anything I liked about the rides on the bus, and I came up with nothing, even though I wanted so much to like something. So, It isn't with pleasure that I share some of the reasons why on some days, I just walk a long distance home, instead of getting on one of the buses in this town.
Firstly, In Jos, the popular mode of transportation isn't the usual 14 seater buses that are used for transport services in Port Harcourt, Lagos, and presumably the rest of Nigeria. It is a mini van which is supposed to seat about 7 people, so if you don't know what a mini van looks like, you can imagine the size. With it's size, you'd think that the passengers would be lesser, but somehow 12 adults are squeezed into it, you can barely turn your head whilst in transit(you wouldn't want to anyways), it is the actual description of sardines in a tin.
Secondly, If you're going to use the bus, then you'll have to set out an hour before time, and even then, you might not get to your destination in time. When I was in Port Harcourt, I complained about how the commercial buses spent too much time on the road, due to too many stops. In Jos, the drivers and their assistants take it to another level, they stop at every street, and then the bus assistants get off, and run into the streets to scout for passengers, not minding how much time is spent. Here's a crazy picture, on a street, there might be about 2 bus assistants attacking anyone walking towards the junction, presumably looking for a bus, and I gotta say that their ambition is applaudable, because they rarely come back without a new passenger in tow. It is so infuriating, on different occasions, I've had to get on another bus after waiting for over 7 minutes.
Admittedly, I haven't been to a lot of places in Nigeria, but at all the places I've been to, I've used the public transportation system, and never have I experienced the kind of chatter that happens amongst the women whilst on the buses in Jos. It's loud, it's unending, it's in a language I don't understand, and it's infuriating. I still can't understand why and how it happens, at first I used to think that Jos was one really big village where everyone knew everyone, but I was wrong, these women do not all know each other, but they get on the bus at various junctions, and somehow join the already loud conversation, and do not shut up till they get off the bus. I've often wondered if I would feel any different about the chatter if I understood hausa, and the answer is a high-pitched NO, so I guard myself with my headphones whilst on the bus, and hope that at some point their voices do not get louder than my music.
Ever since I got here, It takes me about eight minutes to pick a bus to get on, and on a day when I'm not in a hurry, fifteen or more, why? I want to stay clean. Factually, 80% of the buses on Jos roads can be compared to the vehicles dumped and forgotten in the junkyard, the interior of these buses is just as dusty and dirty as the exterior, and I keep wondering if theses buses are government property, because only then would the driver use it without so much as dusting the interior or washing it monthly. It's almost as if the buses are not for neatly dressed people, and from my observation, people get the not so subtle message that says "if you're neatly dressed, and probably in a hurry, get a taxi."
Anyone in Jos can hail a taxi, or get on a Keke Napep(tricycles), these options are faster, cleaner, and more comfortable than the buses, but the buses are the major transportation vehicles, and if you don't own a car, you cannot cometely avoid them. Since I fall into this category, I'll keep getting on them and disliking every minute of it, or just walk home on any day that I cannot sit through the ride, I need the exercise anyways.