Tuesday, October 29, 2013

911 emergency number active in Lagos?


I’m cheered this morning by the experience of a colleague yesterday in Lagos. Area boys seeking to collect ‘rent’ (owo ile) from the owner of a 20 feet container unleashed terror on their Ketu neighbourhood, maiming people and vandalising parked vehicles.

In the heat of the mayhem, he couldn’t remember any emergency number other than the 911 ingrained in his brain from watching American films, and he dialled it just for the sheer hell of it.

Surprisingly, a dispatcher picked it, got the particulars of the area, including the nearest bus stop, promised that the nearest police station would be contacted immediately and, wait for this, thanked him for remembering to dial 911. About an hour later, the police stepped in to rein in the miscreants and restore order.

Forget that it took roughly an hour for the police to arrive, enough time for many lives to have been lost; but the interesting thing to me is he dialled 911 and anybody picked it at all here in Nigeria.

That number has not been listed anywhere in Nigeria as an emergency number to the best of my knowledge. I was in so much disbelief that I asked him to show me his call log, and there it was.

I know of 767 and 112 for Lagos and recall that another colleague experienced a fire incident years ago and dialled 112 and nothing happened. The call was picked but there was no emergency response. Even though the Alausa Fire Station was just about four minutes away to their residence, they very wisely continued to battle the fire themselves till they triumphed.  

Another interesting part of this 911 story is that the call was not billed. My colleague said he checked his balance after the roughly five minutes’ call and it remained the same. Is that cool or what?

I’m keen to know who is behind this 911 number thingy. Is it the much awaited national emergency number project that has gulped billions is yet to fly or is this the baby of Lagos State government?

Kudos to whoever is behind this. At least we are getting somewhere.

Security is the job of everybody, not the armed forces alone. The major hindrance to the war against terror in Nigeria is that the government thinks the armed forces alone can win it. Nowhere in the world is such a war won without the collaboration of the public.

When people are able to give information instantaneously, conveniently and without worrying about depletion of their phone airtime, we will begin to record giant strides against all forms of criminality in Nigeria. 

Additional info

Readers on Facebook and other platforms have confirmed that this 911 is actually working in Lagos. You may wish to save it and put it on speed-dial on your phone. You may never know when you will need it.

I may post some of the feedback from the other platforms later.

Related Stories

Where is our emergency number?
National Emergency Number 112 Not Ready 7 Years Later  

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