My journey to work my flat mate informed me should be no more than 300N. I paid that the first day, the second morning I got it for 250N and was feeling quite pleased with myself as that would enable me to stay within my travel allowance of 17600N per month. You can hear the BUT coming can’t you? So then on Friday it is chaos, one of the political parties , the PDP, is conducting their equivalent of a US primary in Abuja, roads get closed, diversion signs go up, no parking signs are everywhere. My office in opposite the Ministry of Finance Building and its pandemonium at 5PM. I manage to “hiss” down one of Abuja’s green and white taxis – yep you don’t hail a cab, you hiss at it! 700N the driver says, no 250NI say, thinking Ok its Friday, everyone wants home for the weekend, I know there is something going on but 700N is ridiculous. He reduces the fare to 600N. I tell him the fare is 250N and off he goes telling me it is because of the convention. By the 4th or 5th taxi, the best I have managed was 400N. I chat with a local Nigeria lady who is also having trouble but she is going in a different direction so even a taxi share is no possible.
Time is moving on and it is getting late. Not dark yet but I really want to be home before 6PM . It is only a 15 minutes trip but that’s looking unlikely as now there are no empty taxis at all. I am just about to think I should go back to see if anyone is still in the office when a man and woman who were also hissing a taxi walk back up the road towards me. They too are going elsewhere, but she offers to help me get a taxi. Great! But still no empty ones! She says that if all else fails I will be a Nigerian and pay 50 N and take the bus with her help. She will come with me on a bus and make sure I get off somewhere else with a better chance of getting a taxi or really close to where I want to be. Visions of being squashed in a collectivos during the Friday evening rush spin round my head.
I am gearing myself up for the collective experience of the Nigerian buses when finally she gets one driver on the other side of the road to turn round and come back. Again we cannot get him lower than 400N. I decide it is the better part of frugality to cough up the money and get home. Let’s hope there are not too many political conventions on this year in Abuja!
Travelling home I have noticed a great many Toyotas on the roads here, and some very new ones. A lovely brand spanking new bright blue Solara convertible, very nice. Then today in the Guardian an article on the Nigeria rich and their love of fast cars! How the other half lives :)