There is an interesting array of transport used in Zambia. The main modes of transport, as you would expect are; walking, cycling, and riding the blue and white city buses . On a daily basis I also see a variety of open-bed trucks with crowds of locals perched on the side or standing up in the back. One bad pothole or emergency stop and the consequences could be horrendous. They don’t seem to mind. I am interested to see what happens when the rainy season begins.
The routes people choose to walk along would make even the bravest person flinch, but it is not uncommon to find very small children walking along these fast, busy roads all alone and often barefoot. There is nothing as luxurious as a pavement here, in fact there is only a narrow paved ‘shoulder’ along some of the roads, and then a wide dirt path. Cyclists prefer the shoulder, as it is easier to pedal along, (walkers prefer it also, it is firmer under foot and keeps their shoes cleaner) but often the loads cyclists carry on the back of the bicycles jut into the road, causing a hazard for the motorist. Add to this mix, narrow lanes, no street lighting or no ‘cats’ eyes’ to guide the driver, many vehicles being driven with poor, broken or just switched off lights, no lights or reflectors on any bikes whatsoever, and driving in the dark becomes more and more treacherous.
The blue and white public buses are crowded, poorly kept and drive on and off the dirt shoulder at will. Often, people will be standing, hanging out of the open sliding door. I have also discovered that, in Zambian terms, the bus is quite expensive (4,000 kwacha to travel around 3 miles – the equivalent of 50 p or 80 US¢) – when set against the minimum wage for a general worker of 700,000 kwacha per month (£89.00 or $142.00 per month) (Ministry of Labour and Social Security at http://www.mlss.gov.zm/upload/SI/SI%20general.pdf) , it explains why many choose to walk for an hour or more, instead of spending their hard-earned kwacha on the bus.