Thursday, 16 October 2014


On my way to work this morning, I heard on the radio that Lagos state was making today,  October 15th, a #hornfreeday.  It was a welcome idea. I don't live in Lagos, but I've been there a few times. Each time, I wondered how people manage to live in such a place with so much noise and traffic. In fact, it made Lagos one of my most dreaded place to visit in Nigeria. I was enjoying the show and how people were making efforts to actually drive without honking so much (from the tweets that came in). Then, everything got ruined for me when I realised that they would be implementing this new "rule" with the law enforcement agents.

My immediate thought was why involve the law enforcement agencies? Is it now a crime to honk? And this is where my problem with this country lies. Why do you have to make something that would have been fun a disaster. I know majority of Nigerians don't comply to rules and regulations, so does this count as a rule? The aim of the horn free day was to make Lagos State less noisy (wonderful idea). Does the noise come from only the cars? What is the job of horns in cars? In other words, why are cars manufactured with horns?

I decided to try out this "horn free day" even though I was in another town. Just to check it out. I also decided to sample other people's opinion. Besides, nobody is an island. I live in an area where the traffic starts from my gate every morning on my way to work. On the days I'm lucky I make the 15 minutes trip in 30 minutes. When it is a really terrible day, nothing less than an hour. This traffic jams are usually due to the many terrible roads in the city (gist for another day).

Today, I understood really, why they say, "you don't only drive for yourself, you drive for everyone else on the road". Imagine you are in traffic, you want to take the next turn, the guy in front of you is blocking your exit. You wait patiently for the queue to move so that when he moves too, then you can drive off. The line moves, he sits in his car NOT MOVING. You honk and honk, no response. You have to get out of you car to tell him to please move a bit and he is arguing with you. That happened to me today.

Another scenario, finally about to turn off the exit and a car drives and stops right in front of you, you are waiting for it to move, suddenly the person in front of you starts honking. The driver of the car comes out, yells something at you, walks off to make a phone call and you suddenly help her to make the assumption that maybe the car got bad at that very minute. Also happened to me today.

Another experience is driving behind someone, then they stop in the middle of the road and start chatting with another person on the road or even another vehicle. Who has had this experience? I know I have. What do you do when a car is coming straight at you and the driver is not paying attention enough to know he has veered off his lane?

If the government is serious about reducing the noise, I'm in support of it, but first you don't have to do it by force. Human being adapt. It is one of our characteristics. Everything is not achieved by force. Secondly, what happens to other sources that generate noise pollution? Have you ever been to any Nigerian market? Especially in the south. What about the people that blast music in the name of selling CDs? The ice cream man with his tu-tu. Let me not begin to go near the churches. On my street, 1km radius or less from house are 7 churches. 3 of them are on the fence border. I have learnt to sleep with the noise.

Creating a noise free (well, almost noise-free) environment is essential. It should be done the right way for once. I can almost bet that 80% of Lagosians don't know the real reason for observing a honk free day. They probably think it's a government rule and will fight it any chance they get. Go about it the right way. Create awareness, give people time to practice and adjust. Create or accredit standard driving schools. Then watch and see, before bringing out the guns. Anyway, that said, feel free to share your honking experience here.



  1. Thanks. I didn't know about this until I saw your post.

    BBC has a video where they interviewed two people there about there thoughts on it:

  2. You are welcome Michelle. Will check out the video now. Thanks

  3. Nice piece of article there. I think because Fashola feels he's a lawyer, that's why, for everything he wants to do, he makes it a law. How can you prosecute someone for honking? They do a lot of all these to generate selfish money. Imagine the tow-gate in island, a clear avenue to reap people off.


  4. I wish everyone can read this and realize that driving means more than just getting yourself from point a to point b. It's also about thinking about the other people's safety as you drive by. Great post, Keren. Very helpful.


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