New visitors to Nigeria will hear many stories about the transport system in Nigeria, mostly about the severity of Lagosian traffic, but both Lagos, the city notorious for its traffic and Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, have a host of transport options to suit the needs of any traveler.
First off, visitors are encouraged to seek advice from hotel staff or colleagues in the Nigerian city they’re visiting; each city is different and having an ‘insider’s advice’ would prove helpful. Below we look at the top transport options in two of Nigeria’s most popular cities; Lagos and Abuja.
Abuja lies at the centre of Nigeria and has no real water body to support water transportation but Lagos offers water transportation via boat and ferry.
Those moving between Lagos and Lagos Island will especially benefit from using these options. There are several companies that offer ferry services for those preferring to travel across the Lagos Lagoon rather than drive.
Road or Rail
This isn’t even a question – Nigeria’s railways are used mostly for cargo and are in need of repair. It’s not also uncommon to see overpopulated carriages moving on the rail lines. There have been some improvements to passenger rail in the past few years but road is generally still preferred. Traveling on the roads, as busy as they may be, is the better way to go. While Lagos’ roadways are well developed, they are nowhere near as maintained as the roads in Abuja.
Moving around in Lagos and Abuja is best left to the professionals – driving oneself will be a new experience for those not familiar with the way people drive in Nigeria or with the traffic. Having a driver of some kind is preferable, they know the best routes to drive to get to destinations quickest.
How to travel on the road
There is an array of options for the Nigerian traveler including buses, taxis and Uber.
Many Lagosians still use danfo – the yellow buses, however the local government has plans to remove these and replace them with alternate, more reliable means of transportation in the future. While these buses can be used by travelers, they don’t take you to the an exact destination and are not the most comfortable. Visitors are better off getting a taxi or requesting an Uber should they want a specific drop off.
There is also the option of a keke, these are tricycles common in places like india and Pakistan. Though these are available at major bus stops and can be used as a substitute for okadas, they are typically used for short distance travels, keke’s are also restricted from highway travel.
Taxis in Lagos and Abuja are common, they’ve been around for years and are still well used. Pricing is less fixed here, and as per the bus, one can often wait for a taxi to be full before departing to their destination.
Uber is available in both Lagos and Abuja and able to take tourists directly to their destination, unlike a bus. Requesting an Uber is also a ‘sure thing’ and due to GPS technology this is a popular option, allowing travelers to skip the language barrier issues and plug their pick up point and destination directly into the app. Uber also offers upfront pricing – a handy option for those unsure of the currency and what is reasonable to pay for a ride. Many will use Uber for their last mile, using alternate transport options to get to different areas, and using Uber to get them right to their doorstep.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning the common okada or achaba (depending on where you’re from in Nigeria) – these are motorbike taxis that are known for their safety issues. While they are still around and used by locals, they’ve been banned by government and don’t make ideal transport for tourists or even regular visitors.
Whether travelers get around on land or on water, the cities of Lagos and Abuja have several transport options for visitors to explore one of Africa’s busiest countries.