Israel is a teller in a new generation bank. He is deployed at one of the branches on Victoria Island. His resume time is 7:20 am He lives in Akoka and must cross the Third Mainland Bridge (3MB) every day to reach the island. Since she doesn’t have a car yet, she leaves her house very early in the morning and walks to the Pako bus stop, where she boards a bus to Yaba or Sabo, from where she can take a bus to Obalende or Eko Hotel on Victoria Island. . .
An unforgettable experience: On this fateful day, passing the Yabatech bus stop, he noticed the buses on the other side of the road going from Sabo to Obalende. Therefore, he decided to get off the bus he was on to shorten the trip since he was running late. He quickly ran to what seemed to him to be a rapidly filling bus and discovered that there was a space left by the door. The person closest to the door got out and motioned for him to sit further inside. He gladly accepted the offer since the road ahead had puddles of water and he didn’t want dirty water splashing on him. He immediately sat up, felt a chill down his spine, and knew that he had made a mistake getting on the bus.
As the bus started its journey, the man next to him slapped him hard, and the sound of slapping could be heard in different corners of the bus by the non-gang passengers, causing a small ruckus. among them. A gang member pulled out a gun and this caused a sudden calm on the bus. The driver who appeared to be the leader of the gang began to give instructions and assured them that no one would get hurt if they followed his instructions. All were stripped of their valuables, including phones and cash. A POS materialized and everyone offered their PIN, and immediately all the accounts were emptied into another. As they approached the St. Dominic intersection, the bus made a right turn and everyone was asked to jump off while the bus was still moving.
Israel and her fellow travelers had just fallen victim to the “an opportunity” phenomenon that plagues the nation’s metropolitan areas. This type of criminal activity is typically carried out by a gang of men and women who use a car, bus or Keke to pick up unsuspecting members of the public and steal their valuables. These are not kidnappers, ritualists, or terrorists; their goal is to maim and strip unsuspecting members of the public of their valuables using the public transportation system that is the lifeblood of the city.
Origin of the crime: No one knows the exact origin of the term, but it is a popular pidgin English phrase that means that one has entered a situation from which one cannot immediately get out. The practice, as it is now known, became widespread in the late 1990s in Lagos and has spread to other parts of the country.
The passengers most vulnerable to this dastardly act are those who board buses along the routes, especially at points where there are no designated bus stops or where buses are not required to park before picking up passengers. These unscrupulous individuals and groups take advantage of the rush associated with boarding buses in Lagos and lure unsuspecting passengers onto the bus. Members of these robbery groups are placed in “strategic” corners of the bus in such a way that non-group members are locked in a corner with no room to escape. Anyone who has lived in Lagos knows that buses hardly ever stop for you to get off or board when it is not a designated bus stop. His ability to get on and off a moving bus is a special ability that only the Lagosian acquires over time by boarding the ubiquitous “Molue” buses that were peculiar to the city.
Regular routes of theft: In Lagos, the most common theft routes are Oshodi Oke, Charity, Toyota, Iyana Isolo up to mile 2, from mile 2 to Okokomaiko, Lekki Epe highway, Berger-Oke on Lagos Ibadan highway, etc. In earlier times, these incidents only happened late at night, but in recent times it has become more brazen with operations in broad daylight. The vehicle chosen by the “one chance” union is the Toyota Sienna, especially in the mornings.
The unavailability of licensed commercial vehicles has opened a window for unregistered vehicles to enter the space for passenger traffic. This space is being exploited by these criminals, especially during peak hours, to exploit the vulnerability of Lagos residents during this period.
Safer alternative: The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) or its successor organization, the Lagos State Parks and Garages Committee, is perhaps one of the most hated and reviled unions in Nigeria. From harassment, violent garage takeovers, extortion, intimidation, etc., the list of acts of infamy associated with the Union is endless. One thing I have always respected and think they don’t get any credit for is the safety and certainty that comes from boarding the buses at the designated parks where they are in charge. Through a network of personal interactions and years of dealing with drivers and collectors, they have formed relationships that allow them to vouch for drivers.
New drivers who intend to join new parks are not only asked to pay fees and levies; they must also be referenced by other acquaintances or drivers before being allowed to pick up passengers. This semi-informal guarantors system ensures that unknown persons with devious intentions do not use the park as a stage for their activities. Since they are familiar with the buses and their owners or drivers, you can return to report any incidents or cases of loss of personal belongings to the local chapter president.
Using technology: On October 5, 2022, Lagos State Parks and Garages, through its Chairman, Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo, announced the introduction of a barcode for passengers to scan to allow them to identify buses. they are safe to board. . The initiative, according to him, is to stop kidnapping incidents, “an opportunity” and other nefarious activities perpetrated using the public transportation system.
The plan is for each vehicle to have a unique barcode that people are expected to scan before boarding and, when scanned, will display the vehicle number, driver details and the unit from which the vehicle operates. This, according to the plan’s initiators, will eliminate the hijacking incidents currently plaguing the transport sector.
This is a laudable idea to instill some much-needed discipline in the transport sector in Lagos, but it has a very obvious shortcoming. The plan assumes that passengers have the luxury of time and space to be able to scan vehicles before boarding. The hustle and bustle of getting on a bus in Lagos as I said before, does not give rise to such an undertaking. Additionally, passengers already enjoy a sense of security when boarding buses from designated parks, and requiring them to scan a QR code can only provide an added sense of security.
How to identify potential “one shot” buses: The challenge for passengers, then, is how to identify “one-shot” vehicles or what to do to reduce the risk of being exposed to such gangs.
- As much as possible, try to board the vehicles from designated bus stops and parks.
- Do a quick mental scan of the vehicle and its passengers. If you are a lady, please do not board a bus with only male passengers.
- If the passengers are evenly distributed on the bus and ask you to go further inside, do not get on.
- Vehicles offering ridiculous or reduced rates should be avoided or approached with extreme caution.
- Follow your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, please don’t board.
Government responsibility: State governments also have a responsibility to eliminate or regulate the activities of unlicensed persons using their vehicles for commercial purposes. By admitting that they provide a service and help cushion the effect of the vehicle deficit on commuters, their activities have created the space that operators are exploiting for “an opportunity”. In Lagos, a return to the assigned route system whereby buses can only operate within assigned routes, and these routes are displayed could also help curb the threat.
Law enforcement can also organize covert operations to catch these people, since everyone knows the hotspots they operate. The few arrests that have occurred have been due to the determination of the passengers and not any action taken by law enforcement.
Public transportation is an important part of the life experience in any city. Tourists wishing to immerse themselves in the lives of the locals may wish to take public transport. Security-related issues or a lack of security in the public transport system can create a negative perception of the city and its people, thus affecting tourism.
The charge How to protect yourself against the ‘one shot’ scam first appeared in Nairametry.