Re-evaluating roles and relationships between city authorities and informal public transport operators in sub-saharan africa: A comparative analysis of five cities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - africa, mode - paratransit, planning - service improvement, planning - safety/accidents, organisation - regulation, organisation - competition


Informal transport, Paratransit, Regulation, Enforcement, Licensing


Informal Public Transport (IPT) is the primary form of transport throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, responding dynamically to passenger needs, including those of the poorest travellers. Despite this form of collective transport's positive contribution to growing cities, there remain important negative aspects to be addressed, including strong competition for passengers, severe air pollution and poor safety records. The TRANSITIONS project (funded by UKAID) sought to better understand how IPT can be supported to deliver improved service quality, and investigated the relationship between public authorities and IPT operators in the five cities of Accra, Kumasi, Freetown, Cape Town and Maputo. Based on research activities that included stakeholder interviews and workshops, this paper compares the regulatory frameworks of the cities and their evolution. It finds that Cape Town has been an ‘early mover’ in terms of its attempts to professionalise and support the sector, but that self-regulation continues to play a significant role. Accra, Kumasi and Maputo have the main IPT licensing frameworks in place, but limited enforcement capacity and elements of corruption undermine this. Freetown is currently developing a regulatory structure for IPT, which is likely to be informed by major public transport schemes that are frequently seen as the catalyst for IPT professionalisation initiatives.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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