Dakar taxi, is it safe or not?

Yellow and black taxis, one worse than the other, is an aptly description of a Dakar taxi

Our first encounter with the Dakar taxi, a yellow and black monster, was at 2am, in the middle of the night from Dakar International Airport. We found an incredibly poor taxi right outside the arrival hall. A Toyota, I think, held together by wire and steel trowel, taped windshield and without side windows on the passenger side. The driver had to get paid while we drove into the city so that he could stop and refuel. The trip cost us 10$ plus tip.

Taxi in Dakar, getting to HLM Market.
Taxi in Dakar, getting to HLM Market.

The Dakar taxi are an important part of the transport system and with their yellow and black colors, they differ clearly out from the chaotic traffic. There are lots of them at any time and they give a constantly sound, tut-tut-tut, to signalize that they are available.

The most distinctive about them is not the bright colors, but that 99% of them are very old and seems to have been in a collision at least 100 times and straightened up again with a sledgehammer. Therefore, it is not always easy to see what kind of car brand it is, but the vast majority are Toyota Camry of indeterminate vintage and some Renault. I will believe most of them are 1980 models, some older and some very few newer or even brand new. There is much wire and steel trowel used to hold them together and shocks disappeared probably in the 1990s. If 3 of the gears are working, you are lucky. Wheels are not often parallel, so on a taxi ride, you also get a little massage.

Taxi in Dakar, always something to repair!
Taxi i Dakar, always something to repair!

The drivers are also an interesting experience. They talk without exception only the local language Wolof and a little French. This often leads to interesting discussions about price and destination. One would think that you with help of a map, fairly smoothly could locate your destination. But after several interesting observations with the map, we came to the conclusion that many of the drivers are illiterate who does not understand anything of a map of a city they have been driving in all their life. But using a little patience, passersby or other taxi drivers, the driver and we worked it out most of the times. Once they found out our destination, the discussion about what the trip should cost began. Some cranks up the price because we are foreigners; while others will say at once what we have gradually learned is the correct price. You have to negotiate the price before the tour starts, taximeter does not exist. It often feels problematic to discuss whether a trip should cost 2000 or 4000 francs, for us it will say 4 or 6 $ for a trip of 10-20 minutes, depending on the amount of traffic and traffic is most often heavy with endless queues as in all other major cities.

The advantage of the Dakar taxi is that you can negotiate a fair price for a whole day. We found our helping taxi driver in Massen, which we paid for a whole day to go on excursion to the Pink Lake northeast of Dakar. It was such a pleasant acquaintance that we used Massen for several tours during our stay in Senegal.

With Massen driving 4 hours to Samoum Delta.
With Massen driving 4 hours to Saloum Delta.

We do not speak French and Massen spoke poor French. But amazingly enough, we communicated with a kind of baby French and with the help of body language. Some French words hidden in the brain innermost hiding places along with smiles, laughter and moving arms helped and we could actually held a conversation going! And we always arrived at the correct destination. Despite its poor conditions, Dakar`s yellow and black taxis works superbly!

Se også: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g293831-s304/Dakar:Senegal:Taxis.And.Rental.Cars.html

Stop for prayer with taxi in Dakar.
Stop for prayer with taxi i Dakar.
Inside a taxi in Dakar.
Inside a taxi i Dakar.
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