• “Taxi Pirates”: A comparative history of informal transport in Nairobi and Kinshasa, 1960s –2000s

    Robert Heinze (see profile)
    African History
    Africa, History, Transportation
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Informal Transport, Kinshasa, Matatu, Nairobi, Taxi-Bus, African history, Transport history, Urban history
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    The chapter presents a comparative history of two African cities notorious for the way their informal transport systems are regulated by different actors. It looks at how small private (often unlicensed) transport operators took over public transport in the 1950s and 1960s, their efforts at self-regulating and the efforts of informal workers to organise. It traces problems plaguing the industry – and often attributed to the (mostly) young men working in the sector – back to colonial urban planning, which provided few avenues for Africans to move around in the city. The further development of the industry, it argues, has been hampered by government interference, often for political reasons and/or to participate in skimming off profits from the sector. The chapter is based on documents from unions, NGO and government reports, newspaper articles and interviews with informal transport workers from Nairobi and Kinshasa. A focus on historical processuality highlights the dynamics of the sector’s development, which lie in the interactions between city administrations, workers’ organisations and workers themselves. Tracing the history of the industry and workers’ struggles through the last half-century thus provides us with new perspectives on the history of neoliberalism, the African city and labour.
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
    All Rights Reserved


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