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World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Nigeria

the fp is getting-around

Getting Around Nigeria

Air

Nigeria's aviation industry can be unreliable, with new operators springing up (and shutting down) regularly. One of the most reliable internal airlines is Arik Air (www.arikair.com), which operates domestic flights as well as to regional and international destinations. Whichever airline you book with, lengthy delays are common and flights may be cancelled at short notice. Charter facilities are available in Lagos from Aero (www.flyaero.com). Domestic flights can be expensive.

Road

Nigeria's road network is extensive but is in bad shape outside of major cities. Traffic is a serious problem in Lagos, while road safety in general is a major cause of loss of life. Exercise caution when travelling by road, especially at night, and wear seat belts when possible (not all cars, especially older vehicles, are equipped with them in the back seats).

In the north you may encounter military checkpoints; carry your passport with you at all times. Traffic police regularly ask for bribes. Other drivers can also prove a hazard, particularly truck drivers who may not always take frequent breaks.

Side of the road

Right

Road Quality

The national road system links all the main centres, although in some areas secondary roads become impassable during the rains. Reports of armed robberies in broad daylight on rural roads in the northern half of Nigeria have been reported and appear to be increasing.

Car Hire

Cars are best hired with drivers for reasons of safety, insurance and bureaucracy. In Abuja and Lagos, try Avis (www.avisng.com) or ask your hotel to recommend a reliable local company. Elsewhere in Nigeria, hotel staff can point you in the direction of a trustworthy firm.

Taxi

Buses and taxis (or 'bush taxis' in the shape of Ford Transit vans) run between the main towns. Taxis (yellow, or black and orange) can be hailed in the street in most places but it's best to call ahead in major urban areas. Try Easy Taxi (www.easytaxi.com/ng) in Lagos. It's best to haggle for a rate before jumping in, since metered fares can be extremely high in Lagos and Abuja.

Bike

With its pollution and accident record, Lagos is far from a cyclist's paradise. In rural areas, bikes are more common.

Coach

Companies like ABC Transport (www.abctransport.com) and Greener Line operate long-distance coach services that are much cheaper than flying. Conditions and levels of comfort vary.

Regulations

The speed limit for cars is 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas, 80kph (50mph) on highways and 100kph (62mph) on expressways. Seat belts are compulsory for drivers and front-seat passengers.

Breakdown services

There is no national breakdown service; motorists are advised to use independent services.

Documentation

An International Driving Permit is required.

Urban travel

Public transport in Lagos operates in rather chaotic conditions. The city suffers from chronic traffic congestion, which makes it impossible for transport to operate efficiently, especially during the rush hours. There are many private bus companies and several thousand private minibuses. Taxis in Lagos are yellow and both fares and tip should be agreed in advance. A ferry service runs to Lagos Island.

Transport in Abuja is easier to negotiate than in Lagos, since there is less traffic, but prices remain high for journeys by taxi. It is wise to avoid travelling during rush hour in both cities if you are able.

Rail

At 1,126km (700 miles), the Lagos-Kano (via Ibadan-Oyo-Ogbomosho-Kaduna-Zaria) link is the longest railway in the country, stretching from the south to the north. The journey takes 31 hours. Trains also run from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri (via Aba-Enugu-Makurdi-Jos). These two lines link up Kaduna and Kafanchan.

There is also a branch line from Zaria to Gusau and Kaura Namoda. A daily service runs on both main routes. Sleeping cars are available, which you must book in advance. There are three classes and some trains have restaurant cars and air conditioning. Trains are generally slower and less reliable than buses, but cheaper.

Water

Ferry services operate along the south coast and along the Niger and Benue rivers. For timetables and prices, enquire locally. Metro Ferry (www.metro-ferry.com) operates daily ferry services around Lagos. River boats ply the Niger river but are often overloaded and dangerous.