Thursday, October 30, 2008

Click It or Ticket

As I mentioned in the last post, we had a bit of an adventure on our way to Nasarawa State University.  As we entered the town of Keffi, we had to slow down and pass through a police barricade.  The professor from the University sitting in the front seat had not had her seat belt on for any of the almost hour-long ride.  As we approached the police barricade, she quickly clicked it.  Too late.

The police flagged the car to the side of the road.  The driver obeyed.  "Driver's license?"  Produced.  "Papers?"  Produced.  "Fire extinguisher and hazard triangles?"  "In the boot."  Checked.  Then the police officer began talking about how the lady hadn't had her seat belt on.  He took the driver down to the police truck off the road. 

Things seemed to be going ok.  I didn't see any problem with the police stopping the car because someone in it was breaking the law.  Dr. Y thought differently.  She started ranting about the police just wanting money and stopping people for no reason, and insisting that there was no way they could know the professor wasn't wearing her seat belt. 

Dr. Y got out of the car.  I was like, oh boy, here we go.  She went over to the officers and started yelling at them, arguing, arms flailing, whole nine yards.  I just kept thinking about the Chris Rock video about how not to get beat up by the police.  I even thought she might deserve it if they threw her in jail.  I couldn't understand how yelling and insulting the police was going to do any good.

While all this was going on, another set of people were in a heated argument with the police.  The police had removed the driver and passenger from their vehicle and were driving it to the side of the road.  The vehicle was a federally owned ambulance for a local hospital!

Eventually, everyone that belonged in our car came back and we headed off.  First stop, the Traffic and Road Safety Office.  The police had kept the driver's license and said they would give it back to him there.  The professor who hadn't been wearing her seat belt went into the building with a slip of paper she had been given down at the roadside.

While she was gone, the police drove up, in the ambulance!  They had taken it from the driver.  police man deflating ambulance tireThe driver was with them and went into the building with some of the officers.  While inside, one of the other officers took out a pen and began letting the air out of the drivers-side front tire!

As the air wooshed out of the ambulances tire, the professor returned.  We went to do our visit at the school, but our adventures with the police weren't over yet.  After visiting the school, we had to go to a specific bank in town so the professor could pay the N1,000 naira fine for not wearing her seatbelt.  Then we went back to the Traffic and Road Safety Office with the receipt from the bank.  There, the professor turned in the receipt and finally got the  driver's license back.  The ambulance was still sitting there, all its tires now deflated.

ambulance with deflated tires


MaryRuth said...

Sometimes I get a little suspicious of bureaucracy here, but this story takes the cake! How much was the fine in dollars? What is the point of all the arguing with the cops?

goldenrail said...

It's less than $10. The gas used in all that running around probably cost more. I don't think there is a point to all the arguing; people here just really seem to like to yell. I don't know if I've had a day where I didn't hear someone yell at someone else.

Doug P. Baker said...

So they had you driving around all day without a license. What if you had all been pulled over again? Then it would have been even worse!

goldenrail said...

Doug: yeah, I thought of that when we were scuttling back and forth, but then, I suppose the driver would just explain that the cops already took the license and show the slip of paper or the receipt for paying the fine, or something. Africa works in strange ways...