Risking it all

Ivory Coast: Drivers take on hazardous trips to remote places

The Ivorian economy is in good shape, but not its roads. Two drivers struggle on risky trips to remote parts of the country.

Bus stations in Ivory Coast are full of yellow minibuses and vintage trucks – known as Badjans – that date back to the 1970s, and it looks like some of the originals are still on the road.

The Badjans are so old that the owners have to take apart derelict Badjans to find spare parts, or make the bits and pieces themselves.

Zoum, a driver, crams 30 or more passengers into his minibus and takes them to neighbouring towns. But his tendency to speed on the dirt track roads does not always end well.

Meanwhile, 64-year-old Yakou has been driving for 40 years. Everyone calls him “the Elder” out of respect and because he is the only driver willing to make the tortuous journey to some of the country’s most remote villages. He navigates mud, floodwater and wooden plank bridges that he and his passengers have to rebuild every time they pass over them.

Yakou wants his son to take over the driving business when he retires but Dao wants to be a rap musician. However, nothing in the world would make him abandon his dad. “My father’s brave, he’s a fighter!” says the boy.

This film follows two Ivorian drivers as they battle to keep their battered old trucks on the road despite terrible conditions and a lack of spare parts.