Nigerians Take a Stand Against New Helmet Law by Wearing Fruit on Their Heads
Posted Jan 11 2009 3:00pm
On January 1 of this year a new law was enacted by police in Nigeria. The law stated that everyone who drives a motorcycle, whether they are an “ Okada ” taxi driver or a regular biker, must wear a helmet for their safety.
Many people, like Nigerian construction workers, saw the new law as a way to make money by renting out their safety helmets for about 500 naira ($3 US) a day.
Almost everyone else thought that this new law was unfair, and they saw it as just another exercise of power executed by the corrupt Nigerian traffic police.
So what did many of these angry drivers do? Instead of buying the helmets for 800 naira (about $6 US) they put everything from pots and plates to pumpkin-sized fruit bowls known as calabashes on their heads.
Apparently the Nigerian police didn’t like people wearing fruit helmets, so they arrested 28 people in the city of Kano.
The police said they gave the Nigerian public a six month heads-up to purchase helmets before the law came into play, so they are not being lenient with arrests. And they are impounding the motorcycles until the drivers purchase helmets.
But people are still refusing to buy the helmets, not only because they just can’t afford them, but also because they believe the helmets could be laced with evil magic spells and infectious diseases.
So what do you think of the Nigerian helmet law?
Do the police really care about the safety of the people, or are they just making it harder for the poor citizens to lead their daily lives?