In trying to get from Omnivision next to Lion Building just off Campbell Street to Tinubu Square, I was advised to take a ‘Maruwa’ to make the journey that much quicker, especially as I had to return in good time to complete my business. How could I announce that I had never actually been on a Maruwa let alone one in the heart of Lagos?
I took on the challenge – this was going to be as good a chance as any, and so I summoned my ride and off we went. And what a ride it was too. Talk about being at one with your environment – you could actually see the ground rush past, and if you stretched, you could touch the nearest car or other Maruwas as they dashed about.
Initially, I thought about taking the ride alone and paying for the other spaces but that would have taken away from the experience. So, first stop was Campos where my co-occupant insisted on coming out through my side. Maybe this was normal and I simply didn’t understand so I quietly complied. All the while wearing my hard guy look not to be mistaken for a JJC.
In fairness, the CBD – Central Business District – as it’s now known does not look bad at all
The roads are nicely lined down the middle and on the sides, while the streets are all sign posted.
Drama – Scene 1: a rough looking guy with that trademark Lagos Island voice jumps into the Maruwa and sits with the driver who shows no sign of bother. They argue a bit, stop the vehicle and negotiate. Apparently, Mr. Roughguy is from ‘the Union’, whatever that means, and our driver has been shortchanging them for a few days now. So it’s payday, and all is going well until we’re blocked by a beat up police van. Out jump 2 policemen pretending to be really angry, with one of them ordering us out of the Maruwa.
Again, no shaking. Nobody moves so I make like the others and chill. When the 1st policeman is done talking, the Union man turns on him asking what the offense was, and if he didn’t know the deal? Then the driver joins in and asks why the policeman was pretending not to know how things worked, and if he didn’t recognize the Union man?
A whole new meaning of life in Lagos
By now I’m running out of toughness and quietly pay and alight. It’s a short distance to the Square. [scene 2] Then I’m accosted by a very pretty ‘Kora’ girl asking for N50. What on earth can an adult possibly do with N50 that would make any sense? She could get a ride on a Maruwa for one thing, but a quick glance at her feet suggested otherwise. This young lady was quite capable of walking the length and breadth of Lagos Island without pure water; or any other kind of water for that matter. No, the N50 was more likely for a hit of some cheap drug sold on one of the dingy side streets off Tinubu Square…
…which was exactly where my contact was taking me to get a pair of frames for my new glasses. By now I had started questioning the wisdom of looking for cheap frames in Tinubu as opposed to just paying for the smart Estelle ones I saw at the clinic.
Youth unemployment thrives; sits idle mostly
For all the CBD transformation in Lagos Island, the sheer number of clearly jobless young men just hanging around waiting for something, anything to happen is alarming. They were everywhere and of all tongues and tribes. Ibo boys ‘just chilling’, the area boys watching you and sizing you up, and the Hausa (or were they Nigeriens?) looking to help you with whatever load you may need to carry.
But, once again my tough guy looks must have worked. Aside from the kora girl, I was in and out without bother. By now I was a seasoned Maruwa guy so after a short walk towards First Bank, I hopped on another ride, and this time, we went through Odunlami.
Now, is it that the rate of deaths in Lagos Island is higher than in other places, or is it just a case of similar business know-how? A business cluster maybe? Like a row of flower shops bunched together on adjoining roads. Except these were coffin sellers. And makers.
Dead business is alive in Lagos Island
Every other shop in Odunlami has at least one casket on display! Do they wish each other success in business? And what do they pray for on Monday mornings and at trade meetings? Right on cue, my co-rider signals to drop and stops bang in front of one these morbid businesses. Again, it’s my side she wants to alight from and again I have to comply.
At this point, I decide this really has not been worth the time, the savings or the virgin Maruwa ride. Without the close encounter with the other side, maybe. But having to assess different caskets along the road at such close quarters was more than was bargained for.
Omnivision is well worth the bother!
Thankfully, the rest of the ride went by without incident. And lest I forget, Omnivision has to be the most understated, most professional Opticians/ophthalmologists on the Island.
The small discrete signpost on the outside belies a large and very well set up establishment. They have more equipment than I thought existed for eye diagnosis and treatment.
It’s also next door to one of the toughest Police stations this side of Alagbon. In other words, you’re well covered going to Omnivision if the thought of going downtown for an eye examination seems a little daunting. And if you are still not convinced, well there’s a big cathedral a few meters away.
As a newly converted and bonafide Isale-Eko trooper, I score Omnivision a clear 20/20. The lenses could probably have been a little cheaper, but as this is my 1st pair, there’s nothing else to compare with.