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Ivory Coast: Sotra or Wibus mode of transport

The revolution of urban transportation is underway in Ivory Coast. After Sotra, the air-conditioned buses that were introduced in 2008 on the Ivorian roads, Abidjan Transport Company (public) has launched an innovative project, the Wibus. This is an urban transportation system with buses of 27 seats that circulate in the upscale neighborhood of Cocody. The new key is the free wifi and internet which allows the users to continue browsing on the way to work or home.

It’s in April 30, 2016 that the 26 new masters of the road in Abidjan were launched. Their lines, from 701 to 712. The Wibus bus stops feature electronic payment system. If for now 26 brand Hyundai buses were invited into the lives of Ivorians ,127  more buses will cover soon  the Ivorian economic capital. Benjamin Kouakou, Wibus regulating agent parked at the stop ‘Saint Jean’ in Cocody, states that « Wibus have 27 seats and begin to circulate from 6:30 am to 8:45pm. » Users appreciate this innovation implemented by the public company in the urban transport network,. Ange Kassi, young lady leaving for Angré, a residential sub-district of Cocody, asserts : « Wibus gives me the opportunity to connect to the world through the internet. The trip becomes more interesting and enjoyable. This morning I am on Facebook and I look at my news feed. I listen to music directly on the internet. I usually take a photo to announce my arrival, but not today. Maybe I’ll do this Friday, « she adds.

Francois Coulibaly, on his way to work ,considers that « Wibus is the ideal way to travel, especially since the Internet works well. Wibus allows access to internet, information in the morning and evening. Thus, before arriving to the office, I know what happens in my country and around the world. In the evening, I can finish the job, checking my emails on the way back, « he says joyfully. This transport innovation in the transport and Sotra have experienced moments of difficulties to launch the project. Indeed, the internet was not fluid at the beginning. Considering the criticism the direction of Sotra has improved the fluidity of the Internet. Now, even around the stops, users are delighted by the connection’s quality. « The routers have been changed and engineers trained, » informed the engineer Ossoumé Anselme who was hired for this purpose. For now, in the experimental phase, the project is limited to Wibus Cocody. If at first, the price seemed a limiting factor for customers, it’s no longer the case. The ticket price is 400 FCFA unlike conventional buses such as Tata or Iveco whose ticket cost only 200 FCFA.

Why the Wibus in Abidjan?

The old buses, articulated or not, are not air-conditioned and crowded with at least 80 people seated and standing. The main consequence of overloading is the rapid breakdown.. Officials, private agents and rarely students borrow the Wibus also here called « bosses bus or bus choco ». « This is a VIP bus, exclaims Richard Yasseu, with good  air conditioning that i often use, « he says. To access the internet, « you must register with the information pertaining to gender and age, but not the name, » said for his part the young Moses Achiro, a regular user. Launched to contribute to improve user’s transport, the Wibus operates at full speed in Abidjan. Why particularly this upscale neighborhood? The answer is obvious. Users are middle class clients, with high education and a full awareness of the importance of this project.

The mayor of Cocody, project partner, has favored the choice of his scope to fight against the unmarked cars commonly called « woro woro » cluttering the space of the castle. Unorthodox practices added to violence led Mayor Mathias Aka N’Goan to ban them of the streets of his town. A first. Especially in the populous districts of Yopougon and Abobo, inhabited mostly by students, these have, during strikes, got used to break the windows of the bus or write on the body.

Currently, 26 minibuses equipped with Internet circulate in the area and ensure the easy transportation in Abidjan. Between comfort in air-conditioned environment and a lower cost connection, equivalent to an ordinary orange pass worth 200 FCFA, guests are delighted. Note that the Wibus network is seen as  » Sotra’s  proximity network « . After launch and a better customer satisfaction, the Company made a change in the network and the pricing. Thus, from 12 lines, the network has been reduced to 9 from 22 April 2016. The pricing design also took into account the fact that the trip does not happen necessarily in a straight line without stopping. Taking into account the distance, may vary between 300 CFA and 500 CFA. To lure customers, two days of free access were provided on lines 704 and 710. Sotra’s customers , who are mostly pupils and students on several subsidized lines have changed with the Wibus,. What are the prospects for the company and especially the results? Difficult to establish. Efforts by ANA for a meeting with the general manager Boike Fofana have been unsuccessful.

By Issiaka N’guessan

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