Getting around Lomé…without your own car

Visiting or living in Lomé without access to your own set of wheels can be seriously limiting. Here are some of the options the city has on offer, along with their respective pros and cons.

  • For those traveling luggage-free and solo, a zémidjan (aka zem or moto taxi) is the most direct and often cheapest way to zip around town, as a passenger on the back of a motorbike. However, remember that this is also the most dangerous way to move about, considering that helmet enforcement only considers the driver, many drivers do not technically have their papers, and zems are often involved in deadly accidents. Rates start from a few hundred fcfa and are based on distance and negotiation skills.
  • Shared taxis run pre-determined routes. These cars are useful for getting from one point to another along a well-established route (between the beaches of Baguida and Lome town, for example) for a few hundred fcfa. Expect to be squeezed in with many other passengers and accept that your car may be unreliable.
  • Taxis for hire are available at negotiable rates and can come in many different styles of vehicle and states of repair. Taxis (or impromptu taxis willing to take a passenger to make some extra cash) are more plentiful in certain neighborhoods and during particular times of day, so never assume that you’ll be able to find a taxi home from another neighborhood, particularly if you’re looking to move after 8pm. It can be best to keep on hand the numbers of several trusted taxi drivers in your phone, arrange an hourly rate (often 2.500 fcfa per hour within town), and try to book in advance. It can be especially difficult to book a taxi during evening hours, and often rates go up significantly after dark.
  • A newer option just coming onto the scene in Togo is Africab, a car service that began in nearby Côte d’Ivoire and is branching out to the Togolese market. Africab provides a range of newer vehicles with  more consistent quality driving/drivers than your standard street taxi.
  • Another worthwhile option to explore, especially for trips outside of town, is a new ride-share site Croomz which has just launched recently.
  • Car rental – If you’re equipped with a Togolese Driving Permit or a valid International Driving Permit, there are cars for hire available from reputable companies at the Lomé airport. Prices tend to be prohibitive if you’re looking at a longer time period, but for a day here and there could be worth considering if you prefer driving yourself.

Add your recommendations in the comments section!

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