There are a few states within Nigeria that have those White lines, known as Zebra crossing drawn across the roads, from one pavement down to the beginning of another pavement. I still wonder what the idea is behind having it in Nigeria when people don’t understand it.
When I first travelled to England and I saw people walking across those lines, I remember trying to wrap my head around how they walked with so much confidence. In England, a pedestrian depresses a button placed on a pole just in front of the lines and waits for the traffic light to go red for the drivers and green for the pedestrians, before they can walk on those white lines.
All my time in England, the Nigerian fear never left me, I remember running across those lines and saying to myself that my village people cannot get me, even though the vehicles wouldn’t move until the light went green again for them. I mean I have watched some videos online and heard stories of drivers who ran the red light so one cannot exactly say those things don’t happen. Abeg don’t judge me, they won’t judge you too.
So the reason I started talking about this enigma, is, first Nigeria does not have the same level of tolerance or enforcement these white people have and you see that button I mentioned? Mba it is not anywhere. So imagine my surprise one day I was driving through secretariat- that Eko distribution area and this couple were crossing the road. The lady was holding the guy’s hand and you know pulling him to move faster, note the light ahead was green so vehicles were supposed to be moving. And this large guy was pulling back and moving himself on the road like the vehicles were supposed to wait for him.
I could see the lady dragging him and him pulling himself back, basically asking her to let him be while he cat crossed the busy road. I honked severally because I was not planning to stop for some silly person. Anyway luckily for him they both got to the pavement before my Vanessa got to the white and black painting across the floor.
Now this guy is one of those ignorant people who claim to know their rights. You cannot be claiming right of way if you don’t know when that right starts and when it ends. Perhaps he’d had the privileged of travelling abroad for a few weeks and without completely understanding how zebra crossing works, he decided to enforce it in Nigeria for himself.
I wish there is a way I can get him to read this. A pedestrian’s right of way on a Zebra crossing starts once the traffic light says red for drivers. That is why you hear the white people say ‘You ran the red light’ that red light must show first before you jump into the road and expect drivers to stop.
Well if you decide that you must enforce your right and a driver runs you over, well at least be alive first. Drivers on the other hand have to be careful of the mad people roaming the street and drive at a speed you are sure you can control if someone like this guy I just talked about walks into your path claiming his so called right of way, because if you knock him down, depending on the area, you may be lynched. Bear in mind that a mob has no sense and it doesn’t matter that the light is green.
Secondly you may be charged for manslaughter because it now becomes your word against theirs since there are no CCTVs in Nigeria to play back what happened, especially in this era where camcorders appear from nowhere and CCTV cameras in Nigeria suddenly stops recording just at the point it’s evidence is needed to save the day. The footage you need will just suddenly disappear.
So except you know somebody who knows somebody who is higher or more influential than the somebody the other person knows, better be safe than sorry.
Additionally our Highway code on the matter is that as a Pedestrian, you have no right of way until you have stepped on the Zebra Crossing, the code says that even when you have stepped on it ensure no vehicle is coming. So you see the right of way of a driver exceeds yours as a pedestrian and your risks are higher.
So the next time you want to claim to know how a Zebra Crossing works, make sure you know the rules.