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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid