Thursday, 12 April 2012

The 4th and 5th passenger

As a proud owner of a luxurious Legedize Benz, I have been opportune to use most means of road transportation- Okada (Boda-Boda), Bicycle (Tuk-tuk), Tricycle (Keke Marwa or NAPEP), Danfo (Matatu), BRT and even Moluwe (although I am yet to board it alone).

The only route I know the 5th passenger is standard practice is on the Obalende- Oshodi route, using those buses bigger than Danfo; also if you are leaving Lagos -Abeokuta headed for Obalende/CMS before 5.20am, one is likely to encounter the 5th passenger practice. However the bus fare will be 50 Naira less than if it was 4passengers per row.

Apart from the standard practice, if you board a regular 4 passengers per row big bus and you happen to seat on the 2nd row; don't be surprised when the conductor is the 5th Passenger. This practice is not peculiar to Lagos, Nigeria only, this also happens in Nairobi, Kenya. I remember one afternoon, my girlfriends and I were headed to town in a Matatu, the conductor told us to shift, trust them Naija Sistos( as often spelt by Kenyans), we refused to move. The Conductor started insulting us in Kikuyu and we returned the favour in Pidgin. I can't remember if we allowed the conductor to be the 5th passenger or he moved to another row.

 A tricycle has a passenger area which can take 3 or 4 passengers depending on its size however they also have the 4th and 5th passenger practice. If it is a Marwa with 3 passenger seat, the driver might take an extra passenger to seat with him.

Although, the practice seems illegal in Lagos since the 4th and 5th passengers carriers are often arrested and fined, that hasn't stopped drivers from practicing it. Sometimes, passengers refuse to allow the 5th passenger to seat, so he hangs (meaning he will stand till someone alights) but when they succeed in carrying the 5th passenger and the bus driver happens to take a route they usually encounter LASTMA (Lagos State Traffic Management Authority) officers or Nigerian Police at a particular bus-stop, the 5th passenger (conductor) often alight and trek past the officers, then he joins after the "check point".

For the Kekes, when they are going on major roads, they pick up their 4th/5th passenger on the road, not from the park... (Kai I feel like a caster)

There are some routines and situation where I feel the 4th and 5th passenger is justifiable.
·         If the driver's routine is Oshodi - Alagbado via Agege, then I think the 5th passenger is justifiable. Let me explain, if the driver takes inside Agege in order to avoid traffic on the Iyana Ipaja route or the main Agege motor road, he has to pay street usage to some touts.
·          If the bus has a "staff" on board -this is automatically a short one. (Staff are uniform officers- police, solider etc that feel they are entitled to free public transport)

Most motorists do not own the bus they drive. Some of them make daily others weekly payment to the bus owners.  After deducting the “payments”, the need to maintain their vehicles and also buy fuel. The remainder will be shared between the driver and the conductor. When they are one passenger short, it affects their projected daily revenue.

I usually avoid being the 4th or 5th passenger as the case may be because my mind can’t stop wondering why the driver (Marwa) or the conductor is not sharing the fare with me. Honestly, the former pains me most since I have to seat with half yansh..

Yesterday is past, Today is the present that will be written in tomorrow’s history  as past, you have the ability to do something positive today….

Photo credit: 


  1. 4th and 5th passenger,nice one dear,good job. I served on Island for a year but never noticed all these may be because I just always wanted to get home on time not minding any inconveniences. keep up the good job.

    1. true... the journey to and fro island is like travelling two states away.. however man must chop