Nigerian riders wear vegetable helmets to avoid local laws
March 31sth, 2009As the motorcycle world rides into 'Check your Helmet' month in April, the ingenuity of Nigerian riders to avoid their own laws has gained the attention of the World Health Organization.In Nigeria's northern city of Kano, motorcyclists are dodging new laws that force them to wear helmets by wearing dried pumpkin shells. The pumpkin shells are called calabashes and more commonly used to carry liquids.
The police are serious about enforcing the motorcycle helmet law and have already stopped several of these calabash-wearers. Fifty motorbikes have been impounded and motorcycle taxi drivers have staged protests.
Motorcycle taxis - called “achaba” - are a cheap form of transportation, but drivers are reluctant to give their passengers helmets, claiming that they steal the helmets once they reach their destinations. Newspapers are also reporting that some passengers fear that helmets could be used by taxi drivers to cast spells on their passengers.
According to the Nigeria Federal Road Safety Commission, more than 4000 people die and 20 000 are injured each year on the country’s roads. The number of motorcycle taxis has been increasing rapidly, causing a real concern for road safety.Created in 1991, the World Health Organization Helmet Initiative promotes the use of motorcycle and bicycle helmets worldwide and serves as a resource for those wishing to learn more about helmets and to promote their use. The Helmet Initiative stimulates and provides a resource to public health agencies, safety organizations, nongovernmental organizations and other agencies to promote the use of helmets.