Today we take you to Bujumbura City, to see what role bicycles play in daily life in Burundi’s capital. But first, we invite you to enter a world of imagination. Take a moment to picture in your mind the quintessential New York scene…Okay, fine. We’ll do it for you. Envision a busy professional hurrying through Times Square hailing a taxi. They jump in, the taxi takes off, a destination is named, payments are made, the day continues, and life rolls right along.
Now, end scene, taxi in mind, and jump to real life in Bujumbura City. We’ll let our Burundian friends tell you the rest of the story…
A bicycle can work as a taxi, you can earn money, it can be a full-time job to take people places, like here you would do Uber. It’s the Burundian version of Uber. You have so many resources in the US: you have cars, you have planes, you have motorcycles. Not everyone has that in Burundi, so what they have they know how to use it for multiple things.
In Bujumbura, people who use bikes for transportation services are called “Taxi-vélo” like “Taxi-bike.” This way of transport is highly appreciated in Burundi for its low cost. The association of Taxi-vélo riders estimates a number of 23,000 bicycles in Burundi doing the business of carrying people and goods, especially in Bujumbura City.
People take bicycles to move, because it’s the least expensive transport. They take people from one area to another and earn money from that. They make a living through this and are able to sustain themselves as well as their family in the countryside.
In the overall, bikes are of a capital importance in Burundi as they facilitate citizen’s everyday life. Some say, having a bicycle is having opportunity to fulfill one’s dream!
A big thank you to our Burundian counterparts who contributed their vital knowledge to teach all of us here at BFI about bicycle usage in Bujumbura City! Special thanks to today’s contributing authors: Esperance Amani, Fabrice Bizimana, Alex Hakizimana, and Innocent Niyongabo.
Is your imagination filled with ways to support Burundians in their day-to-day livelihoods? Then impact the lives of Burundians today by donating here.
Bicycles are used as Taxi-vélos in other parts of the country too! Pictured here are Taxi-vélos in Muyinga Province.