Bola’s Groove – Episode 9: Citizen Reporter

Bola's Groove

“So, off to Ikeja for breakfast today, sweetie.” Nnamdi said to Bola as he shut the door and strapped on his seat belt. “I am starving to death.”

He was already easing the car out of the parking spot. It was a huge lot, with hundreds of cars parked orderly.

“Pele, honey,” Bola smiled back and reached across to pat his shoulder with her left hand. “I am hungry too. But that was a good service and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Best of all, we get to spend some extra time together today.”

“True, sweetheart,” Nnamdi replied. “I haven’t had a whole Sunday free to myself like this in ages. Who invented jobs?” He had pulled out of the parking lot and on to a cobbled street. The car was soon on the highway at cruising speed with the young couple chatting away.

The 3rd Mainland bridge was the longest in Lagos. In Nigeria too. And in West Africa, to be sure. If you were to zoom out to have a bird’s eye view of Africa, you would see too that this 11.8 kilometre serpent was the longest bridge on the continent as well.

It snaked across the Lagos lagoon like a slippery serpent hovering above the shallow waters all the way from the Adeniji Adele end of Lagos Island through Adekunle on the Mainland, from where it hugs as close to land as possible all the way to Oworo (Oworonshoki in full).

Nnamdi and Bola had just passed the Adekunle intersection. Traffic was light, the sun was out but merciful, and today, the windows were down to enjoy the natural cool lagoon breeze. It was a perfect love ride.

They didn’t see it at first, but the high-pitched screeching of tires suggested that something was going wrong. Nnamdi instinctively did a quick scan of the road ahead and his rear and side mirrors. Nothing. What was that about? As his eyes returned from sweeping the mirrors to the road in front of him, he heard the screech again, and then a thud, followed by a loud wham!

This time, it was in full three-dimensional real-time video. A car on the other side of the bridge suddenly appeared over the divider. It seemed suspended in mid-air for a few moments, though both Nnamdi and Bola would swear later that it was a trick of minds that were in shock.

A man of quick reflexes, Nnamdi was already instinctively hitting the brake. The out-of-control vehicle was not headed their way, but it was best to slow things down anyway. His hazard lights were on in another moment to warn other vehicles coming from behind.

The flying vehicle hit the road and seemed to initiate a Transformer sequence – tyres disjointed, and its shape contorted as it slid across their side of the bridge, bounced off the shoulder, and eventually groaned and scraped to a halt almost right in the middle of the road.

All this time, Bola had been transfixed in shock and holding on to the sides of her seat. Nnamdi pulled over and unstrapped himself. “Quick! Call for help! I’ll get the fire extinguisher!”

Other vehicles had pulled up already by this time. The accidented vehicle looked bad. Well-meaning people rushed out of their vehicles with fire extinguishers to douse the hungry flames that were already licking at the crashed vehicle and joined in the heroics.

Bola had already dialled the Lagos State emergency number, which surprisingly worked on first dial. Surprisingly, because such things hardly ever worked in these parts. An ambulance, police and traffic officials would be on the way, she was told.

She looked at the wrecked vehicle again, praying for whoever was trapped in it. The fire was being put out already. Next would be attempts to rescue the occupant. Or occupants. Already, traffic was building on the bridge – an abnormality on a Sunday morning.

Bola knew she could help. She pushed a button on her phone to launch the camera application. She focused and took a picture of the scene, then selected the “Share” item in the menu, and ticked the checkboxes for Facebook and Twitter. In the text field provided, she typed, “Nasty accident on 3rd Mainland heading to Oworo from Adekunle. Take alternative routes please.” She hit the “Send” button and watched as the picture and her message were broadcast to millions of people instantly over a 3G mobile connection.

Now, more people didn’t have to get trapped in the traffic, plus it would make it easier for emergency services to arrive if there were less cars clogging up access to the scene.

Already, rescue efforts seemed to be yielding some fruit. The driver’s door of the wrecked car was almost opened enough to allow for him to be gotten out. The men were doing a good job with the muscle flexing and things looked hopeful.

She leaned back on the car to wait. And she prayed some more again.

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