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Public Transport Systems in Nigeria

One thrill of visiting other states in Nigeria is using their public transport systems. There are different public transport vehicles used in Nigeria. You can expect to see a mix of the vehicles per state listed below:

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Intra City Transport


The commercial use of motorcycles or bikes in Nigeria has been since the 1970s, though they are banned in most states in Nigeria these days. Some places that still use ‘okada’ (as we popularly know them), include Kano, Adamawa, Oyo, Zamfara, and Kogi, amongst others. And though they are banned from the urban cities of most states, we can still find them in the rural areas.

Also, in some states in Nigeria where Muslims practise Sharia Law, they do not permit women to ride bikes. Bikes are an efficient form of transport in areas with traffic congestions or degraded roads. They seat a maximum of two passengers but are, however, not good for long distances.


Tricycles, popularly known as kéké, came into Nigeria in the ’80s. Then there was a population explosion coupled with an economic recession that left the mass transit system deficient. To reduce unemployment and cope with the demand in the transport sector, tricycles were introduced as a poverty alleviation palliative.

It has grown in popularity over the years and has become the replacement for okadas in most parts of the country like in Lagos, Edo, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Abia, etc. A kéké sits four adult passengers – one in front and three behind – excluding the driver.

Both Intra- and Intercity transport

Taxi Cabs

Every state has taxi cabs (formerly known as kabu kabu) available for public transport. Do you know that here in Nigeria there are different colour codes for commercial cabs with respect to states? Lagos, for example, has yellow with two black stripes; Abia has green with two white stripes; Delta is light blue with white; Cross river is dark blue and white; Edo is red and yellow, and Kwara is green and yellow. Also, taxis outnumber buses and can be hired for trips both within and outside any state.


There are different sizes of buses available for public transport in Nigeria. There are the danfo and molue, luxurious buses like BRT, and minibuses.

Buses are popular nationwide for crisscrossing between cities and states. They bear the state transport colours and have unions with motor parks at popular junctions in every city. Also, they are easy to find in any city because they drive through major roads.

The big luxurious buses use ticketing systems to board passengers while the small buses are hailed and boarded at random.

During the initial phase of COVID in Nigeria, the government reduced seating to 50% of their capacity. Which was about 5 people per bus as opposed to 9 persons per bus (excluding the driver and conductor).

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In a riverine or sea areas like Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ogun, and Rivers states communities separated by large bodies of water use boats for public transport too. Either canoes or speedboats are used for public transport. About a year ago, Uber launched its boat taxi service in Lagos to strengthen waterways transportation as alternative public transport.

They are cheaper, faster and less expensive compared to road transport vehicles covering a similar distance. The size of the boat determines its capacity, but the average number of passengers is eight. They are best used during the day before 5 pm when the undercurrents are not so strong.

Inter-city Transport


Nigeria’s railway system started as far back as 1896. But by 2013, we could only boast of the Lagos-Kano route and by 2016, Port Harcourt to Maiduguri route. This story is about to change with the commencement of multiple metro train projects like the Lagos Rail Mass Transit, Warri-Ajaokuta-Itakpe Standard Railway Gauge, and the Rivers Monorail in Port Harcourt. Thanks to the Abuja Light Rail metro, which opened in 2018, trains are now an option for public transport. This metro train is one of the safest and cheapest ways to travel the Abuja-Kaduna route. It has revived people’s dependence on rail transportation.


Airlines like Arik Air, Air Peace, Max Air, Med-View, Dana Airline and Ibom Air are some airlines offering flights to the public. Air travel is the safest and fastest way to travel in Nigeria, despite the delays and challenges in the aviation industry. It is also the most expensive way to travel. Air travel has been around since the 80s and there is an airport in almost every state in Nigeria.


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Ann Esievoadje

Ann Esievoadje is a freelance writer who is passionate about encouraging a reading culture and personal development. She has authored two books, The Quilt (fiction) and Being Mummy and Me (non-fiction). She manages Pulchra Publishing which offers a content creation/editing, transcription, different forms of writing (including Ghostwriting) service and her blog, Life Love and Anything Goes at You can reach her at

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