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Mali introduced Chinese-made motor rickshaws in 2006. They’ve been such a hit that most of Mali’s bigger cities are overrun with them and competition between drivers is pushing down prices. They’ve now been barred from the centre of the capital, Bamako, but in Mali’s third-largest city, Segou, the rickshaw-taxi is the main means of public transport.
“I have a wife and seven children,” rickshaw driver Bassidi Baba Djefaga told Reuters Africa Journal. “This
rickshaw is what enables me to feed my family. Before I had the rickshaw, I was a taxi driver and had two taxis. But when the new rickshaws arrived, I saw that taxi cars weren’t going to be good business any longer. So, I sold my two taxis and bought a rickshaw.”
Bassidi was one of the first drivers in Segou to buy a motor rickshaw, and it paid off. He can now make around $300 a month — a lot more than the average income in Mali, which is around $130.
The rickshaws are a government initiative to create employment and improve transport. Mali’s minister for transport introduced them in 2006 after a visit to China, where motor rickshaws are widely used.