Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Niger, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Niger is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Road safety throughout Niger is a concern, and visitors are strongly urged to avoid driving at night outside of major cities. The public transportation system, urban and rural road conditions, and the availability of roadside assistance are all poor. The main causes of accidents are driver carelessness, excessive speed, poorly maintained vehicles, and poor to non-existent road surfaces. Other factors include the hazardous mix of bicycles, mopeds, unwary pedestrians, donkey carts, animals (cattle, goats, camels), and buses on roads that are generally unpaved and poorly lit. Overloaded tractor-trailers, “bush taxis,” and disabled vehicles are additional dangers on rural roads, where speeds are generally higher. Travel outside Niamey and other cities often requires four-wheel-drive vehicles, which creates an additional security risk, since these vehicles, especially Toyota Land Cruisers, are high-theft items. Driving at night is always hazardous and should be avoided. Banditry is a continuing problem in northern and eastern Niger, as well as along the border with Mali. There have been occasional car-jackings and highway robberies throughout the country.
While taxis are available at a fixed fare in Niamey, most are in poor condition, and do not meet basic U.S. road safety standards. Inter-city “bush-taxis” are available at negotiable fares, but these vehicles (minibuses, station wagons, and sedans) are generally older, unsafe models that are overloaded, poorly maintained, and driven by reckless operators seeking to save time and money. A national bus company (SNTV) operates coaches on inter-city routes and, since being reorganized in 2001, has provided reliable service and experienced no major accidents. Air Transport, Rimbo, and Garba Messagé are private bus companies operating in Niger. There is some concern regarding the youth of drivers and the speed with which the private bus companies travel the Nigerien roads. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends against traveling outside Niamey at night as most roads and vehicles do not meet U.S. safety standards and unlit vehicles, livestock, and pedestrians are common on roads.
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