Lagos Public Transport Palaver : Protecting Oneself As A Lady On A Public Bus

By Regina Agada


Zeenat grew up in the suburbs of Lagos, she has the traits of a typical “sisi eko”, street smart and knows how to navigate her way through this complicated and fast-paced city. She’s a young lady who just completed the mandatory National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) programme and had to return back to Lagos in search of job opportunities. Commuting to her job where she interns as a radio presenter every weekday was done through public transport; popularly known in Lagos as Danfo, she sometimes uses the BRT ( Bus rapid transit) buses as well.

Commuting to and fro her job through these means of transportation is nothing new to Zeenat, she knows how to navigate her way through the huge crowds gathered at the bus stop every morning as well as the struggle by passengers to catch a space on the bus. On a rainy Thursday morning, Zeenat boarded the BRT bus from Stadium bus stop to CMS, the only seat left on the bus was the handicap seats, an older woman sat beside her leaving others who could not get a sit standing on the bus. As the bus approaches Costain there was traffic gridlock. Before boarding the bus Zeenat noticed a frail-looking man with a green coloured backpack, he was on the queue and a few metres away from her; he tried to get her attention by smiling and waving at her which she did not respond to. Interestingly, the man could not find a space on the bus to sit but deliberately stood in front of Zeenat in a bid to get her attention by all means, during the ride he continuously leaned towards her asking where she was headed, she replied him saying “ it’s none of your business”, that did not deter him from continuously pestering her which later became irritating even the woman in the Ankara dress sitting next to Zeenat could not contain her disgust.

Zeenat running late for work and the continuous disturbance from the man standing in front of her made her upset, she was at the verge of punching the man in the face but that voice within her kept echoing the importance of staying calm and treating every situation with caution. To create a barrier between she and the man, Zeenat used her handbag as a barrier between her and the man which did not stop him from stepping on her in a bid to get her attention at all cost. She was filled with rage which led to her screaming at the man saying “ if you touch me again, I will “F” you up” her outburst alerted other passengers on the bus, two older looking men standing close to “Mr Harassment” started making tasteless jokes which sounded like then egging him on to continue. Mr Harassment then went on to have an erection while facing Zeenat and she could no longer contain her anger by eventually punching him in the face, she was immediately supported by the women sitting close to her and some young men who had to call him to order. The tasteless jokes continued by one of the men standing saying “aunty you fine na which man no go like you”, an older looking man retorted in Yoruba saying “ko fi owo kan now” which made Zeenat angry that she had to shut them up, her firmness made them take back their words and they apologised.

The bus was on the bridge linking Apongbon and CMS; there was sudden silence on the bus but her adrenaline was still pumping she was still filled with anger because she felt like she has been violated and more could have been done. Stories of harassment suffered by women on public transport are quite popular but with less attention being paid to them. There have been a few viral moments on various social media platforms which end up being trivialised and made a joke out of which is quite sad. People are quick to dismissing the stories of victims which further aggravates the situation and gives offenders more reason to keep perpetuating such heinous acts.

featured image :, chisco transport company.

Source: Above Whispers

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