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1. Modes of transport for urban goods in Africa and Madagascar

1.1 Modes of transport in the Sahelian cities: N’Djamena and Bobo-Dioulasso
1.2. Modes of transport in two main port cities: Conakry and Dakar
1.3. Modes of transport in Madagascar: Antananarivo

1.1 Modes of transport in the Sahelian cities: N’Djamena and Bobo-Dioulasso

1.1.1 N’Djamena
1.1.2 Bobo-Dioulasso

1.1.1 N’Djamena

The city of N’Djamena covers an area of some 5 500 hectares on the banks of the River Chari at its confluence with the Logone, and extends 15 km from east to west and 8.5 km from north to south. The city, with a current population of around 800 000, has 12 markets located in various areas. The principal markets are the Central market, which has about 3 300 traders, and the nearby Millet market (only 500 m away), which stands on about 9 hectares and has 5 500 traders. Together they make up a huge multipurpose commercial site, with each market playing a different but complementary role. The Central market has become the popular place for fabrics, clothing and toiletries and certain foodstuffs (meat, fruits and vegetables, with a strong predominance of European vegetables and imported fruit). The Millet market is the capital’s main general market for all staple local and imported goods as well as numerous handicraft products (pottery, matting, etc.), building materials and furniture.

These two markets operate as the largest wholesale markets for all local foodstuffs (cereals, root crops and fresh and dried vegetables) and staple food items (rice, sugar and flour). A substantial proportion of these foods comes from the re-export trade with Nigeria and Cameroon. The goods travel by barge from Kousseri (the large frontier town in Cameroon on the opposite bank of the Chari) and are unloaded at the river customs post, which is less than two kilometres from these two markets. There is a great deal of coming and going between these three poles, and between them and the secondary markets.

The transport of goods to supply the markets is carried out almost exclusively by non-motorized vehicles (NMVs); the artisanal taxis and public transport (minibuses and covered pickups) are used for the transport of retailers and their hand-loads.

Two types of non-motorized vehicles are used in the capital: the traditional rickshaws, which make up the majority of the vehicles, and two-wheeled carts. The carts can carry up to 2.5 tonnes (typically 30 sacks of rice weighing between 80 and 90 kilos each) while the rickshaws can carry between 100 and 600 kilos. Most of the rickshaw and cart operators rent their vehicles from proprietors who sometimes own several dozen vehicles.

Cart transport

Virtually all the staple foodstuffs imported through Kousseri travel by carts, which service the following routes, although the first two are the most important:

The cart operators therefore supply all the wholesalers at the central markets and the markets in the north and northeast districts. They make five to seven journeys a day between customs and the city centre (Central market and Millet market) and average two journeys a day to the secondary markets, mainly with rice, flour, barrels of oil, bundles of second-hand clothing, and cartons of canned food. The cart operators transport between 20 and 30 sacks a day and charge CFAF 75/sack from customs to the Central market, CFAF 100/sack to the Millet market, and CFAF 150/sack to Choléra, Diguel and Dembe.

Rickshaw transport

Rickshaws carry most of the food and manufactured products between the two main central markets, and from them to the secondary markets, the shops of the traders in the neighbourhoods and private homes. Most of their customers are market retailers and shopkeepers; private customers account for only a very small percentage.

Approximately 600 rickshaws congregate around the Central market and the Millet market where they are in great demand for trade between the markets. At the Central market they wait at both wings of the market, and at the Millet market, they gather around the Allée Centrale by the areas used for unloading and storing local cereals and root crops. Fares vary between CFAF 75 and 250 depending on weight and distance. For example, the charge for carrying a sack of onions or rice (weighing between 80 and 90 kg) between the two main town centre markets is CFAF 100.

1.1.2 Bobo-Dioulasso

The organization of urban goods transport to supply the markets is somewhat similar to the situation in N’Djamena: non-motorized transport is predominant (rickshaws and two-wheeler and four-wheeler carts) while a complementary but secondary mode of transport is the network of collective taxis.

This situation is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, the use of NMVs by the modern “formal” sector, shows the flexibility of this mode of transport and contradicts the view that it is linked solely to the traditional market sector. Secondly, competition exists within this same mode of transport between the same types of vehicles. It should be noted that rickshaws can only carry around 200 to 400 kilos, two-wheeler carts carry less than a tonne, while four-wheelers can take up to around 2.5 tonnes.

Bobo-Dioulasso, with a population of 300 000 in 1990, has 15 multipurpose markets and 8 specialized markets, none of which are more than four to five kilometres from the Central market, which is the main redistribution centre for food and manufactured goods. The Kikasso Cira wholesale market, which is about two kilometres from the Central market, specializes in fruit and root crops, although its main function is to redistribute goods to the capital of Burkina Faso, to towns in Mali and, above all, to Niger. Fruit and root crops for local consumption are taken by cart to the sheds of the sub-wholesalers at the Central market, from where they are taken by rickshaw or cart to the neighbourhood markets.

The town centre of Bobo-Dioulasso is a kind of huge commercial and administrative complex. It is the location of virtually all the warehouses of the local produce wholesalers (mainly cereals) and importers (food and manufactured goods), most of the municipal government offices and public services, the head offices of large corporations, banks, and the hospital. There is a very large six-hectare market with over 6 000 traders selling on the roads in the neighbouring streets. This entire complex covers 150 hectares in the shape of a triangle about one kilometre deep and 1.5 kilometres wide at the base, with the former railway station at the apex, the Central market in the centre and the city hall at the base.

The warehouses and parking places for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) occupy a substantial part of the area and extend over onto public land. Three unregulated freight centres have been set up where large trucks from Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Togo park, while waiting for orders, after having unloaded their freight alongside the premises of the licensees and trading companies. There is also a great deal of movement between this commercial centre and the railway station, which is less than one kilometre away, and particularly between the bonded warehouses and the private warehouses linked to the rail/road freight system.

Rickshaws, and, above all, carts, carry all these goods over very short distances: from the trucks to the warehouses, and from the warehouses to the informal truck depots and the stores of the market traders, and lastly from the railway station to the shops and traders in the town centre. There are over 25 parking places for NMVs scattered throughout the area. In 1991 the two-wheeler cart operators complained bitterly about competition from the four-wheeler cart operators and their future seemed to be very bleak.

Unregulated trade in re-exported second-hand clothes and imported fabrics is a major factor in the reputation and business flair for which the Bobo traders are known. Fabrics and second-hand clothes pass through Côte d’Ivoire, are cleared at the Bobo station customs post and then re-exported to Côte d’Ivoire by the vast network of smugglers. The stores of the largest wholesaler-importers of second-hand articles and fabrics are all lined up opposite the Central market. The traders organize the storage of the containers in the railway yard and then use carts to transport the goods to their shops. It is not uncommon to see an endless procession of carts (including many two-wheelers) making their way in single file from the station to the shops carrying tonnes of bundles of second-hand clothes from these containers, causing incredible traffic jams just at peak traffic time around the market

The regulations state quite clearly that trucks are prohibited from unloading around the market at peak traffic time in order to avoid obstructing the traffic. It was noted that although the truck drivers delivering produce to the market wholesalers are issued fines when they park opposite the market, the importers using the carts do not seem to have this problem, a good example of double standards.

1.2. Modes of transport in two main port cities: Conakry and Dakar

1.2.1. Conakry
1.2.2. Dakar

1.2.1. Conakry

Conakry - with a population of 1.2 million in 1990 - has about 20 multipurpose markets in addition to 12 specialized markets for building materials, construction timber, fabrics and artisanal fishing products. Because of the geographical shape of the peninsula, which is a long strip of land, there are 14 organized markets and 6 specialized markets set up along the main road, which is the principal artery out of the southern part of the territory. On average, there is a market along this road every two kilometres and the furthermost market is about 17 km from the town centre (Madina). The northern coastal road, which at the present time is partially tarred, has only three markets.

The two major flows of goods, which make up the backbone of Guinea’s trading system, meet at the Madina market and the surrounding area. It is here that food supplies for Conakry arrive together with imported goods (rice and other staple foods, manufactured goods, building materials) to supply the city and the interior of the country. The Madina district is therefore the most important freight-handling centre in the country and Guinea’s main storage centre. Virtually all the warehouses of the main wholesaler/importers of rice, sugar and flour are grouped along the three or four main roads to the south of the Madina market. It is here that the vehicles are loaded to supply the interior; all the shopkeepers specializing in the foodstuffs sold at the 20 or so markets that exist in Conakry purchase their supplies from these warehouses.

The Madina market is the largest for products manufactured in the town and is also the largest foodstuff wholesale and retail market. Whatever trans-shipments take place along the national highway at any of the wholesale markets at Matoto, Gbessia or Bonfi, the final destination of all the hauliers is the wholesale market (Nyenguema) at Madina. In 1986, over 10 000 traders and about 400 food wholesalers were recorded in the whole of the commercial zone.

A transport system used strictly for goods traffic carries building materials (sand, cement, blocks, etc.), and all the staple food supplies (rice, salt, sugar, flour and canned foods) for the wholesalers and the shopkeepers. This system has its own truck depots and operates around four points in the peninsula: Conakry 1, near the port; Matam Lido, close to the large centre market of Madina; Hamdalaye, on the northern coastal road and Enta on the national highway. Old Soviet-manufactured jeeps (ITCO) are used together with ZIL trucks to transport substantial loads (between one and five tonnes). This system is perfectly suited for the needs of small-scale traders and private individuals who are unable to find transport facilities suited to their needs in Conakry.

There are different types of transport for food depending on the direction in which it is transported. Non-motorized vehicles (NMVs) link the small urban ports where paddy, salt, palm oil, fish, construction timber (mangrove wood) are unloaded with Madina, and Madina with the neighbouring markets. Four-wheeler carts and rickshaws cover these very short distances of north-south or south-north traffic (between one and two kilometres).

Transport from west (Madina) to east (the various markets on the national highway) covers long distances and is carried out almost exclusively by motorized vehicles. “Alakabon” collective taxis handle most of the motorized transport of goods between the markets together with the pickups and “1 000-kg” minibuses. Most of the customers are retailers transporting their goods from Madina, or from the ports to the markets at which they trade.

Women traders prefer the 1 000-kg minibus, mainly because of the lower cost: FG 50 for the trip and FG 50 for any package, compared with the taxi fare of FG 100 for the trip and between FG 200 and 500 for a package. The minibuses, however, are less safe and because they are so old, accidents occur on a daily basis.

There is a very small narrow difference in retail prices among all the Conakry markets, while retail prices at the Madina market are much lower. The lowest wholesale and sub-wholesale prices can also be found at Madina for every commodity. For example, retailers from Taouyah or Tanene can buy a sack of rice at Madina at a better price than they can from specialized rice traders at their own markets, and this is a source of complaint by the retailers who have to pay high transport costs.

1.2.2. Dakar

The population of Dakar is approximately two million, with one million situated in the municipality of Pikine. The main wholesale market for fresh produce in Dakar is in the municipality of Pikine near the Thiaroye station (from which the Thiaroye-Gare market gets its name). The market extends along both sides of the railway line over a distance of 970 metres, and continues for a further 250 metres along the paved road in the district bordering it to the east. The Thiaroye market is a major source of fresh produce, handling the entire vegetable crop from the main production regions of Senegal (the zones of Nyayes, Cap-Vert, Casamance, the gardens at Keur Massar or the nearby Nyayes region). It is also the market with the lowest prices for vegetables as well as manufactured goods, making it well known and important well beyond the municipal boundaries.

There are approximately 4 500 traders at the Thiaroye market, in addition to 3 300 itinerant traders who occupy the surrounding roads and the railway line. The wholesale market (commodity market) has from 700 to 1 400 wholesalers and middlemen, depending upon the season.

To the southwest of the Thiaroye market is one of the two largest timber markets in Dakar. This timber market is used almost exclusively for the purposes of celebrations (preparing food for baptisms, funerals and marriages) It is also used by the artisanal woodcarvers in the capital.

The Thiaroye market is served by various modes of transport: buses, rapid buses, official and unlicensed taxis, travelling in every direction possible, as well as the “little blue train” (Petit train bleu). Their destinations are very clearly identified. Conventional taxis, light vans, small covered pickups and the rapid buses, known as “work buses”, cover long distances between Thiaroye and the markets in Dakar City (between 10 and 17 km). Horse-drawn carts are used for redistribution to the markets of the densely populated municipality of Pikine.

One particular aspect of this commercial pole is the fact that it is possible to reach the very centre of the market using the little blue train with reserved lanes, which has now become the most effective mode of transport in the Dakar region. There are more than 12 trains a day running in both directions (each train carrying 240 passengers seated and about 1 500 standing). The train is not only used by the people living in the outskirts who commute between their home at Pikine (Keur Massar, Malika, etc.) and their workplace in Dakar, it is also the mainstay for thousands of women traders. They travel from Dakar and all stations east lying between Thiaroye and Rufisque to the Thiaroye market to sell M’Baw smoked fish and Casamance produce from Ziguinchor, which is unloaded on Tuesdays and Fridays in Dakar harbour. They also buy vegetables for resale at the city markets.

1.3. Modes of transport in Madagascar: Antananarivo

In 1991 the population of Antananarivo was about l.5 million. Because of the geography of the zones that supply the Malagasy capital, two large wholesale food markets have developed at the trans-shipment sites used by trucks and vans. The first and the most important of these, Anosibe, grew up spontaneously at a truck depot site on the plain to the west of the city; the second market, Andravoahangy, lies to the northeast in the hilly part of the capital. The Isotry market, which is located in the city centre near the railway station, is officially the only wholesale market in the capital. Since the beginning of the 1980s, however, it has lost much of its redistribution activity to the two other wholesale markets. The central market of Analakely is the main market for manufactured products, and with its weekday fair, called the Zoma, it is a commercial centre for some 9 000 traders. It does, however, handle certain green vegetables for redistrubtion.

Goods for sale at the district markets (there are 42 in the Malagasy capital) and the neighbourhood stores are transported by both motorized and non-motorized vehicles. Manufactured goods and food (cement, sugar, flour, salt and white rice), which are imported and/or distributed by the large government corporations, are transported by old dilapidated vehicles with a carrying capacity of three or four tonnes. These vehicles, which are found in special truck depots near the railway station close to the Tsiralalanane district, are used by wholesalers and also by many small grocers who pool their purchases and together hire one vehicle for deliveries to their shops. These old vehicles may be used during the day whereas heavy goods vehicles are not allowed in the city during the daytime.

The motorized vehicles used for food transport are mainly 3 hp vans. There are also a number of covered pickup trucks serving several markets that carry the peasant farmers with their produce from the peri-urban vegetable-growing areas.

The non-motorized vehicle park consists of wagons, wheelbarrows, rickshaws and four-wheel horse-drawn carriages. The wagons (four very small wheels and a board) are used both for water transport in the neighbourhoods and for food transport from the nearby vegetable-growing areas in the east as far as the Andravoahangy market. They are not found anywhere else. Manually hauled four-wheel carts are only used at the large timber market near Isotry. Horse-drawn carriages operate only on one route between the two large wholesale markets at Anosibe and Isotry[1]. They are used by food retailers in the outlying districts to the west and northwest of the capital.

The best non-motorized vehicle for transporting goods between the markets is the rickshaw. The Malagasy rickshaw rides high (the wheels are larger in diameter than African rickshaws); it can carry up to 500 kg of goods and operates within a radius of about seven kilometres. The largest rickshaw parks are by the markets at Anosibe and Analakely. There is, however, a degree of competition between the rickshaws and the 3 hp motorized vehicles, which transport between 300 and 500 kg of goods. Their prices are virtually the same, although the rickshaw seems to be holding its own. It has its own customers and its own service networks, which are not necessarily accessible to motorized vehicles. In the steep hilly parts of the city or where there are no proper roads, or where the streets are very narrow, the only form of transport for small-scale retailers and wholesalers is the rickshaw.

It should be emphasized that buses carry a considerable amount of merchandise to all the small markets located away from the city centre in the northern and eastern districts. The Analakely market is in the centre of the urban public transport network.

[1] “Faded red and green carriages, drawn by two emaciated horses, with the hood covered with ‘sobika’, are the most outdated vehicles in Antananarivo.... All they are used for is to transport the vegetable sellers and market gardeners between Anosibe and Isotry. They were supposed to disappear in 1980; the urban buses were brand new and the horse-drawn carriages were dilapidated, while rickshaws could take only one person and a few baskets. But the rickshaw prices rose, as did the fares for the light vans. The ‘poor man’s bus’ catering for the poor people weighed down with baskets and always working alone at a tiny market has therefore cashed in handsomely on the expansion of Anosibe market. Each of the 16 carriages recorded there make four round trips a day between the large market at Anosibe and Isotry. On average they carry 10 passengers and 250 kilos of goods” (G. Pourcet, 1985).

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