Horses, Buggies & Community

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Dakar’s horse-drawn buggies, long a staple means of getting around, are under an emerging threat from motorized rickshaws. Yagazie Emezi for The New York Times

Senegal shows up a dozen times in our pages over the years, but not one those times is about my own experience there. Strange, because that experience marked my return to teaching, and indirectly led to the work we are doing now with Authentica and Organikos. That is worthy of a post, which I will write another day, for now enjoying a simple story about life on the streets with horses, buggies, their drivers, and the community members who are transported by them:

It’s Horses vs. Motors in Senegal. The Steeds Still Win on Many Roads.

By 

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Yagazie Emezi for The New York Times

DAKAR, Senegal — After a visit to the market to buy a box of mangoes, some fish and a length of cloth, Binta Ba, a Senegalese woman, needed a way to get home.

So she looked around for her preferred means of transportation: a horse and buggy.

A ride was easy to find, with dozens of horse-drawn buggies lined up near the market, which was in Rufisque, a picturesque suburb of Dakar known for its colonial architecture.

She climbed aboard a buggy, whose driver then waited patiently for a third passenger to occupy his final seat. When his buggy was full, he took off at a trot, sometimes speeding up to a canter. The riders paid about 50 cents for a 10-minute ride, a fraction of what it would cost to take a taxi.

“Taking taxis is for rich people,” Ms. Ba said. “We prefer to support these people because they are from the community.”

Her view is a common one in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. But the city’s horse-drawn buggies, long a staple means of getting around, are under an emerging threat from motorized rickshaws.

Some city officials see the horse-drawn carts as a vestige of a poorer country, incompatible with the modern highways in a capital that is booming economically. The carts, in their view, are too slow, block traffic and cause accidents. The horses also foul the streets.

The move toward electric rickshaws got a big lift after a recent visit by President Macky Sall to India, where he saw motorized cabs widely in use and liked what he saw. He asked for, and was given, a gift from the state of 250 of them to try an experiment in clean-energy transportation in Dakar.

In the city, horse-drawn wooden carts weave through traffic jams alongside battered yellow-and-black taxis, tank-like SUV’s and flashy sports cars. Supporters say they are a useful adaptation to streets that are often buried in sand blown in from the nearby seashore, or for roads too narrow for trucks to get through.

Read the whole article here.

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