Cheap Motorbikes in Haiti Seen By Some as a Scourge of the Streets

The motorcycles had served a major life saving role during the worst epidemic of cholera in recent history; often they were the only means to carry people from the remote Haitian corners to the health centers and had saved the lives of many. Before the earthquake, they were mostly seen in rural towns carrying live chickens, pigs or towing items like bamboo poles, rebars and even sometime wooden coffins. With over 500,000 motorbikes on the streets of greater Port-au-Prince, they now constitute the unruly 45% of Haiti's underdeveloped public transportation system. The demand for motorcycles in Haiti is never very difficult to understand, because often the cars and SUVs cost doubled in Haiti than the USA and they are beyond the reach of most Haitians who live on less than $2.44 a day and about 24% of them manage on less than that. But there are many people like 'Joseph-Marc Carel' who know the risk of ferrying passengers on a small battered motorbike, but has accepted this as a means of livelihood because earning $50 in a week in this profession is not very difficult.


But often they have to pay the price for the associated risks-- accident takes a toll on their body and life. Accident is never uncommon to them as it is never to other pedestrians and fellow drivers and passengers. The cheap Chinese made motorbikes began to flourish on the Haitian streets following the 2010 earthquake. They were brought in by the foreign aid workers as part of their disaster-relief efforts. Now the streets of Haitian capital are flooded with the rowdy small-engine Jialing, Lifan or Jeely models which you can easily buy a new for $800 or can get on a lease from a lessor on easy terms. Nobody obeys the safety rules, the combination of inexperienced motorcyclists, general lawlessness and packed bumpy roads have resulted in a big jump in the accident and casualty rate.

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