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Ivorians turn to boats in gridlocked Abidjan

A traffic gridlock in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's capital   -  
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Ivory Coast

The Ivorian capital Abidjan is one of the most gridlocked cities in Africa.

Due to a lack of adequate transportation infrastructure, traffic jams are a menace. A 2019 World Bank report said commuters in Abidjan lose more than three hours in transit daily, a significant cost to personal incomes and the country's economy.

But city dwellers now have a choice. Many are increasingly traveling to work and school using boats that sail on the lagoon that goes around Abidjan.

"I come from Azito and with the boat, it is 30 minutes of the journey. With the traffic jams, I can take one, one and a half, even two hours. It depends," one passenger told Africanews.

The Ivorian government liberalized transportation on the waterways in 2016. There are three lagoon transport operators at the moment trying to satisfy the demand for alternative transport.

About 100,000 people per day now travel by water in Abidjan, nearly half in traditional boats. The state wants to see 300,000 travelers per day in the next five years

"You have a lagoon that extends from Adiaké to Grand-Lahou. Imagine the potential in terms of lagoon tourism. We must develop lagoon tourism. Ivorians must learn to rediscover their country through the lagoon and this is a challenge that we want to meet," said Désiré Messou, the manager of STL, one of the boat transport operators.

Almost every neighborhood in Abidjan is on the water, presenting an attractive alternative. Five million people call the city home.

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