Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Whoops we lost a wheel

Yesterday as I was travelling back from Panyam to Abuja, I heard a loud bang, panicked as the driver tried to control the vehicle, breathed a sigh of relief when he brought us safely to a halt and then after taking advantage of the unplanned "comfort break" took a look at the damage.

Now I thought we had a puncture, so I wandered why some of my fellow passengers were running along the road, Nigerian men don't go that far to pee after all, then I saw them returning with a wheel.  I realised that we had lost the whole wheel and had come to a halt by scraping along the leaf springs and whatever the inside bit of a wheel is called.

In true Nigerian style the driver quickly assessed the damage, and despatched the conductor to the nearest town for some new wheel nuts.

I took a bit longer for me to see the evidence that two wheel nuts were sheered off, and probably we had been driving with only two nuts, (out of five), the two nuts were adjacent to one another and could not easily be removed.  Therefore if I re-entered the vehicle it would have three nuts, better than two, and whatever damage had been done to it by dragging its underside along the ground.

I decided not to get back in the vehicle, and never to get in a vehicle again without counting the wheel nuts!  With a fellow passenger we flagged down a vehicle and travelled to Keffi, and then to Abuja, I didn't check the nuts, so much for good intentions.

The thing that amazes me, is how calmly everyone takes it, I tried to imagine what would happen if a National Express Coach lost a wheel, "sorry madam, well you see we only had two wheel nuts, and with the pot holes in the road, and the speed at which we were travelling, it was kind of inevitable, but inshallah God was with us, and we are all alive, soon we will get some more wheel nuts and be on our way, sorry for the inconvenience"

Nobody made a fuss, and as I panicked everyone told me it was perfectly safe, I suppose it comes down to if there is a choice, and if the alternative is guaranteed to be better, I got into another two vehicles, at further cost (covered by my fellow passenger, again another Nigerian characteristic, welcoming of strangers, not the first time I have had my fare paid) and arrived safely, maybe my fellow passengers weren't worried because there isn't really a choice, and maybe the driver drove really slowly for the rest of the trip as a precaution.  I don't know because I had a choice, and chose not to re-enter that vehicle.

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