Getting around in Nigeria can be challenging. Driving is often a dangerous and painstaking affair, and though public transport is available, it is usually best avoided.
Most expats lured abroad to a posting in this African destination are provided with a car and driver, but it’s still best to familiarise oneself with the rules of the road and the common laws that undermine them.
Driving in Nigeria
Most companies provide their expat employees with a car, a driver and, in some cases, a security escort. While expats are allowed to drive most prefer to employ professionals to take on the Nigerian traffic. Congestion in Nigeria’s urban centres can last hours and some commuters will even leave the house as early as 4am to avoid it. Additionally, instances of kidnapping and armed robbery have been reported, and are not points of threat to be taken lightly.
Foreigners are advised to ensure that if they are being collected by a driver, that they do not give their name or their employer’s name until they have verified their driver’s identification. A friendly face and plenty of distractions may lull one into thinking they have climbed into the right vehicle, only to find they are being held up, relieved of all their cash and delivered right back to the pick-up point.
Foreign driver’s licenses are not recognised in Nigeria. Foreigners are required to have a Nigerian driver’s licence, and most employers can make the necessary arrangements for this.
Public transport in Nigeria
There are numerous options when it comes to public transport in Nigeria, but, generally, these are unsafe, unreliable and not recommended for expats.
Numerous bus companies operate in Nigerian cities, but again, safety is a concern due to poor maintenance of vehicles and low driving standards. Danfo, which are yellow minibus taxis, are the most popular means of getting around most Nigerian cities, while larger buses called Molue operate along fixed routes in and between urban areas.
Taxis are plentiful in Nigerian cities and offer a viable means of transport for expats. Taxis are either metered or have fixed fares. It is possible to hail a cab from the street, but a safer option is to phone and order one ahead of time. It’s best to negotiate the fare before entering the taxi, or make sure that the meter is working.
Okadas, motorbike taxis that hurtle down highways weaving in and out of traffic at breakneck speeds, regularly transport locals in and around Nigerian cities. Although these are arguably one of the fastest and cheapest ways to get around, they are best avoided due to safety concerns. These vehicles have been banned in Abuja’s city centre, and are outlawed in Lagos at night.
Air travel in Nigeria
Due to Nigeria’s vast size, as well as numerous safety concerns, travel between cities is best done via air travel. The country’s two main international airports are Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu also have international airports.
A number of international and regional airlines offer services to and from Nigeria and smaller charter services offer transport to more remote destinations. Expats should choose their airline carefully, though, as local Nigerian airlines have a dubious safety record, and most are included on international black lists and forbidden from flying within the European Union.