When last did you visit a swampy area where you had no choice but to cross a pako bridge, to get to the other end?
Crossing pako bridges (wooden bridges) is not for the faint hearted. It takes courage to walk on one. For first time crossers, Your heart pounds in your chest as the hard wood creaks beneath your feet. The vibration and bend sound, effect of many footsteps on this makeshift bridge gives you the feeling that the bridge may collapse the next minute.
As you carefully place one foot after the other on the ancient floorboards so you don’t miss your step, your mind begins to play tricks on you…You may hear an inside voice saying; “you see that black ‘yamayama’ shit water wey dey under the bridge, you go land inside am yakata!…Swamp go bury you finish..” And then you’re so scared that your vision suddenly becomes double and blurred.
In your heart, you begin to call upon Holy Mary, Eledumare, Jesus or Allah to keep your feet steady and hold the pako bridge firmly as you walk through. Alas! When you’ve safely made it to the end of the pako bridge, you feel like a winner!
If you’ve never seen or crossed any pako bridge in your life, you’re not a true Nigerian shikena! For those ‘ajebutter’ folks who grew up in highbrow areas like Banana Island, Lekki and Festac town, you may not understand sha. I know you’re used to seeing paved roads and side walks. But for some of us who live or once lived in ghetto areas like Ajegunle, Igando, Alaba, Orile/Sari iganmu, places wey better road no dey and swamp kon full everywhere, crossing of pako bridge na normal everyday thing. We fit even close our two eye cross pako bridge to and fro!
To cross pako bridge, most times you have to pay
N20, so it’s a good business for some Lagos private wooden bridge owners!
Though most folks find it scary and dangerous to cross local bridges, I love pako bridges! It’s one thing I find fascinating because of the bridge building technique. It’s surprising that as fragile as these bridges look, most of them never collapse!
How many pako bridge wey you don hear wey collapse? Some pako bridges I know have lasted for ten years and counting! Even longer than most tarred roads. Just like the one I always cross before getting to Alaba international market.
Don’t you just love pako bridges?