West African Jobs That Really Suck!

IMG_20140206_181903Here are the cheap seats.

Actually, this is the daily life of the young men working apprenticeships with private transport drivers in Mali, West Africa. They are often hanging out the back, or off the top of the load like this when a paying customer needs the space inside. An 18 passenger van routinely has 27, or more, people crammed inside. I took this picture with my smartphone on the way home from the village last night. It is grainy because it was getting dark. I had to do some serious enhancement to get it this clear.

This photo is not rare….. It is the norm, all over Africa. We see this repeated hundreds of times each day, here in Mali.

Despite the photo’s poor quality, I thought you might like to see the Malian transportation safety practices in effect, and how the Malian worker safety board is effectively protecting people from dangerous working conditions here in Mali.

Unfortunately, these transport guys get killed all the time- falling off when they slip on bumps, or getting hit with a passing tree branch that knocks them off the the vehicle. I do not envy them in any fashion.

These young men are constantly watching for customers en route, shouting to people on the side of the road to find out where they want to go. They jump off at every village stop to find more customers to cram into the interior space, and pack their baggage on top if they score one. They are responsible for loading and unloading all that heavy baggage.

These transport vans load up by the corner at my house and office in Sikasso, beginning around 5 -6 am, and they will be driving and working until late in the evening, seven days a week. The apprentices hope to be the person behind the wheel someday.

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