Sunday, August 31, 2008

Taxi! The Okada.

Pict by Michael Kamber for The New York Times

"Okada refers to commercial motorcycles in Nigeria, where motorcycle riders carry passengers for hire. It is one of the chief modes of transport in Nigeria and, by far, the most common form of informal transport system in that country. The popularity and widespread acceptance of okada has rapidly risen in recent years. Unfortunately, the rise of okada has been accompanied by increased levels of high-risk behavior and accidents on Nigerian roads; as a result they have come under heavy flak culminating in legislations restricting or prohibiting their operations in some Nigerian cities.

Okadas have adapted easily to the prevailing economic climate in a contemporary Nigerian society plagued by a dearth of taxi and bus services, hypercongestion, and the poor state of roads. Also, they have become a ubiquitous feature of Nigerian cities because of their low cost of purchase and fuel efficiency. However, they are usually more expensive for consumers than other forms of road transport.

Jincheng AX100 Kano-The Classic Okada Motorcycle Taxi.
Pict Via:
Shiraz Chakera's photostream

The survival of okadas during fuel (gasoline) shortages in Nigeria is preserved by their superior fuel economy. Motorcycle fuel efficiency benefits from the relatively small mass of the vehicle, compared to its passengers and to other motor vehicles, and subsequent small engine displacement. During fuel scarcity, okadas quickly become the dominant form of transport. This has led some to allude that they may be responsible, at least in part, for fuel crises in Nigeria. Furthermore, a weak mass transit system has spawned the use of these alternate means of transport. Okadas are also able to navigate and travel roads where no car has gone before - especially true in villages, and urban slums. Okada riding has been described as “a unique experience” by regular passengers and tourists. In the major cities e.g. Lagos, where traffic congestions (and inevitably, delays) represent an ever-present threat to businessmen, government workers, students of various schools and colleges, okadas come into play, with their smaller design they are able to weave through traffic, and literally rescue countless helpless customers from the organized chaos on Nigerian roads."

No comments: