Motorbike taxis are more popular than public transport vehicles in Kinshasa. This preference is explained by the multiple advantages of motorbikes in terms of time and shortcuts in the face of interminable traffic jams.
DRC motorbike taxisMotorcycle taxis have no difficulty in coping with the traffic jams that make road traffic in the city of Kinshasa difficult. These motorbike taxis make it easier for the people of Kinshasa to get around. However, these drivers (wewa editor’s note) do not always get good press in Africa’s largest French-speaking city. What are the challenges that motorcycle-taxis face in the exercise of their profession? What is their working day like? AFRIK.COM went to meet them. Here is a report.
It is 11:00 am GMT in Rond Ngaba, one of the hot spots of the city of Kinshasa. At this hour, the sun is shining brightly! On this spot, the motorcycle-taximen are grouped according to their destinations. Looking at this roundabout, you would think you were in front of a fork in the road. Here, endless horns and megaphones messages are the law.
Between impatience and mistrust
Idle youths, itinerant traders, taxis and motorbikes can be seen on this spot. Everyone is focused on their business. As on other stretches of road in Kinshasa, the motorcycle-taximen I met on the spot are in a hurry and have no patience with the traffic jam. They weave in and out of cars and drive at high speed.
Yves, aged 24, a motorbike taximan who runs errands at the Ngaba roundabout in Mont Ngafula commune, in the south of Kinshasa, says: « I have been doing this job for two years. It allows me to provide for my family, » he says coyly. In search of a potential client, the young man with dreadlocks and a babouche is not at all interested in our questions. « Tika ngai (leave me alone), » he says disdainfully.
Next to him, another motorcycle-taximan, a little more open. With an umbrella attached to his motorbike, the man with glasses hides nothing from us. « It’s not easy to be a motorbike taximan in this city. It takes a lot more courage and self-sacrifice », says the thirty-year-old, with a moustache that partially eats into his face. For him, this job is « a headache » because they have to deal with « prejudices and stereotypes ».
A high-risk job
In Kinshasa, motorcycle-taximen are often suspected of being at the root of disorder and insecurity. In 2020, for security reasons, the provincial government identified all motorcycle-taximen in Kinshasa in order to put an end to the crime that was being perpetrated using motorcycle-taxis.
« Motorbikes do not only have advantages. They become a danger for people if the motorcyclist drives without conscience, » says Zaky, one of the managers of a motorbike taxi in the commune of Mont-Ngafula, in southern Kinshasa.
Mwamba, a motorcyclist in spite of himself, notes that « not all motorcycle-taximen are bad. There are those who are guided by ethics; they respect the highway code, but the big problem is the education received in the family, » he says, adding hesitantly that he is « a graduate in public health (…) I start work from 4am until 10:30pm, » he concludes.