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River Transport in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

The Ébrié Lagoon in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Two new river transport companies will soon begin business in Abidjan to compete with the Abidjan Transport Company (SOTRA). SOTRA still holds a monopoly in the country's economic capital four months after the Ivorian government announced plans to liberalize the transportation sector. According to the Ivorian minister Gaoussou Touré, this measure should "put an end to SOTRA's exclusive rights over the use of the local lagoon," with the arrival of private businesses "so that there will be a number of boat terminals."

"All of these elements will help to improve traffic in Abidjan," said Gaoussou, without revealing the names or opening dates of the companies that will be competing with SOTRA.

In Abidjan, the economic capital, transportation via the Ébrié Lagoon has been carried out since 1980 when the first terminal opened in Le Plateau (the city's business district). SOTRA holds a monopoly over waterway transport with 70% of the market, 20 passenger boats called "boat buses," and four waterway terminals in Le Plateau, Treichville, Abobo-Doumé, and Cocody-Blokhaus. Transport by boat costs between 100 and 200 CFA francs, and helps to relieve traffic congestion and reduce traffic jams.

Boats in the water near Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Alongside the official transportation company, a market for private waterway transport has also developed with the appearance of about fifty private fishing vessels that transport between 100 and 130 people at a time on various routes.

In 2013, SOTRA agreed to an investment of thirty-one million francs to be used for the acquisition of 500 buses, the restoration of bus stations, and the expansion of the company's industrial capabilities. At the end of September, 2013, the government announced the liberalization of inland waterway transport and the restructuring of SOTRA, which has recorded annual losses for the last ten years.

The restructuring process includes the offsetting of debts between the state and the transport company, allowing the company's available funds to reach 3.3 million francs. SOTRA is considered to be the first urban transport company in West Africa.

Which other cities have made use of nearby bodies of water to diversify transportation?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Original article, originally published in French, here.