News / Africa

Nigerian Motorcycle Taxis Driven Away by Ban

Lagos Pushes Motorcycle Taxis Out of Towni
X
November 14, 2013 12:57 AM
In recent years, many African urban centers have banned motorcycle taxis, citing danger for drivers and passengers. Some cities have managed to find ways to enforce the unpopular law. But others are struggling. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from the city of Lagos in Nigeria.
Heather Murdock
In recent years many African urban centers have banned commercial motorcycle taxis, citing danger for the drivers and the passengers. But some drivers in Lagos say the danger of driving a motorcycle is much less than the danger of starving without a job. 

In many parts of the world, a young man, or occasionally a woman, with a little money can buy a motorcycle and work as a commercial driver.

In Lagos, Nigeria’s financial capital and largest city, riders have been banned from the city center and work only in the suburbs. Drivers say since the ban took effect last year, most of their ranks have quit or left town.

Ken John drives a motorcycle, known locally as an “okada.”  He says he is still in business on the outskirts of town but his income has been cut in half to about $10 a day.

"Sometimes I can’t have money to pay the school fees, sometimes the house rent. So that is the problem it is causing for my family,” he said.

Analysts say the streets of Lagos are markedly safer now but estimate tens of thousands of drivers are still out of work.

At his Lagos home, media strategist Gbenga Olorunpomi showed VOA documents he obtained from the Ministry of Transportation that show a 70 percent drop in motorcycle accidents this year, adding the ban has also improved security.

“There would be burglaries in estates or in areas, and the preferred mode of escape for the robbers was okada, was bikes, so that was an issue,” said Olorunpomi.

But other countries in Africa have faced similar problems and found different solutions.

Kigali, Rwanda never really enforced its ban on motorcycle taxis in city centers in response to outrage from drivers and passengers. And while there are still motorcycle accidents in Kigali, the government has curbed the problem with licensing requirements and strict traffic and helmet laws.

But Nigerian driver Christian Isaac says Lagos is far more lawless and hectic than Kigali and it would be much harder to enforce regulations here. Even in the suburbs, he says, driving is dangerous and he would quit if he could.

“Unless I get work, I will stop. If I want to leave that work, then I won’t have anything doing. That is why I’m still driving down to Ogun State,” he said.

Isaac says he would quit if he could, but he can’t find work in his field. He used to be an auto mechanic but his shop closed. To him, the ban feels like a punishment for bad driving in the past, but he blames poorly maintained roads, not the drivers.
“We don’t drive rough. We drive normally. Do you understand?” he asked.

On the streets in areas where the bikes are banned, former passengers say they do a lot more walking these days but appreciate the government’s safety concerns.

Lagos is developing rapidly, they say, and it’s not surprising that some of its poorest are getting pushed out.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs