Archive for January 7th, 2009

‘Hey Pumpkin Head, What’ya Ridin’?’

January 7, 2009

Motorcyclists in Nigeria have been wearing dried pumpkin shells on their heads to dodge new laws forcing them to wear helmets, the BBC reports.

Under a law imposed as of Jan. 1, motorcyclists not wearing a helmet risk a fine of N2,000 ($14.50) or six months in jail. Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Sector Command of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) told the All Africa news agency it had impounded thousands of motorcycles and arrested more than 200 motorcycle riders for not wearing safety helmets.

“The facts are very clear: Head injuries are a leading cause of deaths in motorcycle crashes; the most important step riders and passengers can take and in fact must take in terms of protecting themselves and staying alive is to wear crash helmets every time they ride,” FCT Sector Commander Nseobong Akpabio told All Africa.

nigeria-mapAll Africa reports that, because of the rush for the purchase of the helmets, helmet prices are now rising from about N2,000 ($14.50) to between N7,000 ($51) and N8,000 ($58.25), and that those who cannot afford the price in this economically depressed country have deserted the roads or sought out alternative forms of head protection.

Officials in the northern city of Kano say they have stopped several people with improvised helmets. Kano Federal Road Safety Commission Commander Yusuf Garba told the BBC authorities are taking a hard line with people found using the improvised helmets.

“We are impounding their bikes and want to take them to court so they can explain why they think wearing a calabash (a dried gourd) is good enough for their safety,” he said.