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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid