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[Nigeria]Nigerian glossary

New Bussa

Written by kevin

I’d heard that it’s possible to take a boat down Lake Kainji, which sounded much more interesting than the usual bush taxis. Things were looking good when there was an almost-full car going to Yauri, from where the ferries allegedly leave.

Once we got there things started to get complicated, with a large crowd of motor park officials appearing to tell me that there are no boats and never have been and that I should just take a car. Of course, I knew they were lying, they’d swear blind that there was no lake if they thought it would get you in one of their cars.

After asking around a bit more it seemed that there really weren’t any boats at that time, the lake is very low and as a result quite far away from Yauri. Instead I took a car to Kontagora, thinking it would be easy to get from there to New Bussa.

In Kontagora I found a cheap hotel, another one of these bizarre places staffed entirely by teenage boys. They were overjoyed to have a baturi staying and kept popping up to check if I needed anything.

The next morning I was at the motor park early but there were no cars going to New Bussa. One of the drivers took me out to the road and found a car going to Mokwa, which is on the way. The local taxi of choice seems to be a Toyota Starlet, a small three-door car about the size of a Nissan Micra. Into one of these they’ll cram up to eight people, four in the back, two in the passenger seat and two in the driver’s seat. After three separate taxis I finally reached Mokwa and found the car going to New Bussa.

An hour and a bit later the driver still had no passengers apart from me, so he decided to drive me round the corner to the other motor park. Realising that that car was now at the back of the queue I noticed that there was a minibus almost ready to leave and hopped aboard.

New Bussa is an odd place, basically a company town for NEPA. It has the distinction of being the only town in Nigeria to have constant electricity, due to being beside the hydroelectric dam that produces much of it. I even stayed at the (very cheap) NEPA-owned hotel, where the helpful receptionist sneaked into town to bring me a beer against Niger State’s sharia laws.

To occupy myself I took an okada out to the dam. It’s not terribly impressive, even if you’re interested in these things. I asked around about boats to Yauri and they confirmed that they’re seasonal, depending on the level of the lake. I also chatted to the National Parks staff sitting at the upper entrance to the dam’s defunct lock. They’re there waiting for any tourists who might happen to want an outing on the lake, but you have to buy your ticket at the office elsewhere.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 20th, 2007 at 08:27 and is filed under bradt, travel.

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