The idea that traffic jams and gridlocks are the bane of commuters in Nigeria lives is quite cliché. However, with Onitsha, one of the most popular cities in the south-eastern part of the country, the reality behind that cliché is quite understated.
Onitsha is a major passage for travellers heading to the east. Usually, travelers heading in the south-east direction from the Asaba end get the first taste of the traffic at the Onitsha Head Bridge before the ‘main course’ within the town where commercial activities add to make the traffic even more frustrating.
With almost every Igbo indigene making plans to visit their home towns, there is bound to be serious traffic gridlock. But not to worry, Jovago.com, Africa’s No.1 online hotel booking site has a few tips to help alleviate the stress that comes with Onitsha Traffic.
Set out early
The early bird gets the fattest worm. If you are determined to beat the Onitsha gridlock, you should make plans to wake up super-early.
If you are travelling from Lagos and are commuting via public transport, endeavor to catch up with the first bus which leaves at about 6am. However, if you are setting out on your own, you can actually leave home as early as5am. You however need to be vigilant so as not to fall victim to robbery or mugging.
Fill your stomach
Hunger has a way of intensifying stress and making you angry even in situations where you would normally ignore on a normal day.
Putting hunger at bay helps you stay focused on the traffic ahead, keeps you alert and makes your journey much more bearable. Luckily there are hawkers who parade the sidewalks of busy streets tasty delights. You can patronize them or you can pack your own food before you hit the road.
For those who have tiny stomachs and cannot afford to indulge in whole meals, popcorn is a life saver. Eating one kernel at a time occupies your mind while the carbs calm you down.
Listen to soothing Music
Music is food for the soul and everyone has their favourite genre of music – the type that calms and soothes their nerves in times of stress of difficulties.
Before you hit the road, ensure you stock up on CDs and MP3s. Diversify the genre as there is no telling what mood you will be in when the gridlock sets in – you may find out that singing along to loud, fast-paced music might work better than slow music.
Singing does not only get your mind off the traffic, it also changes your breathing pattern, which in turn lowers stress levels by slowing the heart rate and calming the nervous system. If you are however not a fan of any kind of music, you can simply go for an audio book or a podcast.
Go with public transport
Most people prefer to travel in their own private cars, however, it may not be the best option to deal with Onitsha traffic, especially if you intend to get to your destination as soon possible.
Sitting in the car and having someone else struggle through traffic gives you the opportunity to focus on tasks that provide utility or pleasure to you. These public transport driver are aware of certain short cuts and routes (unknown to regular commuters) that help them escape some areas known for heavy gridlock.
Saying that the Onitsha traffic is exasperating is an understatement. However, if you try to force your way through traffic and carry an aggressive mien you will end up further stressed out.
When you find yourself at the point of frustration and anger; rather than banging on the wheel, making faces, muttering hateful curses under your breath, try to take a deep breath and relax, as deep inhalation has a way of lowering stress levels, making it easier to deal with the gridlock.