Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Transport means in African cities

Article from AFRIC Editorial
It is interesting to know how people commute daily in towns and cities in African countries. In most of these countries, transport from one place to another is a blend of different modes. But the majority of these means of transport are run by the private sector. The failure of state-owned public transport systems saw the growth of the informal transport sector which is now mostly made up of minibuses, taxis and, more recently, motorcycles.

A 2011 survey carried out in the cities of Kampala, Lagos, and Douala indicated that car ownership is rated at 30 to 70 vehicles per 1,000 people far below the global average of 180 vehicles and by 2014, there were only 42.5 million registered vehicles in Africa. The continent still has very low rates of car ownership, hence, a majority of the population are expected to go about their daily duties with the help of public transport.

Generally, transportation is expensive in most cities. Information shows that passengers spend about 40 percent on average of their income on transportation in Lagos.

This sector which was once neglected by the authorities is drawing attention as the number of deaths by road accidents increases. With the inability of the government to provide for and effectively run state-owned companies to facilitate the movement of people, the informal transport sector is what is common in most cases. Hence, commuters turn to alternative means of movement and the motorcycles are one of the most popular modes used.

Mode of transportation in some countries

  1. Cameroon

The public transport in Cameroon is regulated by the Ministry of Transport. Transport within cities is dominated mostly by taxis, minibuses, and, motor-cycle-taxis.

  • Intra-city Bus: In big cities like Douala and Yaounde, you find intra-city buses which most often operate at lower prices. SOCATUR in Douala has a monopoly on public transport service. The company provides about 10% of daily trips in Douala and in Yaounde, Le bus provides the same services while trying to cover major routes in the city.
  • Taxis: This is one of the most common means of transport in all cities in the country. They provide daily services and charge according to the distance to be covered.
  • “Bend-skin” or Motorcycle: There has been a growth in the use of motorcycle locally called “bend-skin”. They are common in big cities like such as Douala where they represent close to 30% of total public transport. However, many people are skeptical about using this means due to the high degree of risk involved.
  • Kabou-Kabou: Common in Douala, these vehicles had defined routes and transported several passengers at a time. But due to the high level of accidents involved with this service, authorities placed a ban on this means of transport in the city.

  1. Congo Brazzaville

Transportation here is handled both by the municipality and private operations led by the informal sector. The private sector accounts for around 95% of public transport.

  • ‘100-100’: They are the cheapest mode of transport in the cities and passenger pay 150 FCFA to their destination. The often go to well-defined destinations within the city. Usually, they carry close to 5 passengers at a time.
  • Taxis: this means of transport is usually reserved for those who are considered wealth due to the fact that it takes only an individual at a time who pays 1000 FCFA depending on the distance.
  1. Kenya

Kenya has been cited as one of the countries with the best transport systems. In the capital Nairobi, it is essentially run by private operators. Some of the informal means include;

  • Buses: Several private companies run bus services on the same routes at most often at cheaper rates.
  • Matatus: This is the most common mode of transport and it is more prevalent in Nairobi. They are shared minibuses with a capacity of up to 25 passengers. The cost, routes, and, stops are not defined because they are influenced by the passengers.
  • Taxis: These taxis are stationed at specific locations and ae hired individually. They are not metered so the fares are negotiated between the driver and the passengers
  • Boda boda: These are motorbikes which are commonly referred to as Boda Boda in Kenya and Uganda. It is similar to what is referred to as ‘Okada’ in Cameroon.
  • Tuk Tuk: This is used basically for short distances taxi and are a combination of a motorbike and a taxi but has 3 wheels. They operate like taxis but are relatively cheaper.

  1. Côte d’Ivoire

In Ivory Coast, the sector is run purely by the informal sector operators and the authorities have no control as far as the transport fares are concerned.

  • “Gbakas”: These are minibuses similar to the Matatus in Kenya with 14 to 22-seat capacity. Hey account for 27% of the public transport in Abidjan and connect the downtown district to the outskirts of the city.
  • “Woro-Woro”: These are taxi’s which are coloured according to their various areas and they represent 32% of the public transport in Abidjan.
  • Taxis: The taxi covers the entire Abidjan and they are metered, hence clients are charged according to meter readings.

  1. Ghana

The informal sector in Ghana covers 90% of intra-city transport. Some of the transport services include;

  • Metro Mass Transit (MMT): It provides services along major areas of the cities to the outskirts with the state as the major shareholder.
  • Tro-tro: They are minibuses and are usually the most common means of displacement working along well-known routes. Tro-tro’s are also very cheap as compared to other means of transport.
  • Taxi: They are available for more comfortable rides in cities like Accra, Kumasi and, Tamale. Generally, a taxi can be shared by 4 or 5 passengers and fares are set through a negotiation between the unions and the Ministry of Transportation.

These are some of the ways of commuting in some countries. With a change in name and in some cases the system of operation, the means of transportation is very common in most African countries. Some of these modes of transportation have been given very funny appellations sometimes to reflect the services they offer or the charges they take like the 100-100 in Congo Brazaville. The most common means being the minibuses, motorbike and taxis. However, Madagascar has what is referred to as the Rickshaw which are non-motorized carts towed by men.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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