Togo: the country with the worst motorcycle death rate in the world

The white-tiled floor of Togo’s largest trauma unit is awash with the blood of motorcycle riders.

The patients’ limbs are fractured, their scalps gashed and feet grotesquely twisted. Every day is the same – a relentless production line of injury which the hospital must triage.

Due to a shortage of beds, paramedics place the latest victims of motorcycle carnage on plastic sheets on the ground. Power cuts are frequent – but there is no panic; the doctors stitching up a motorbike-taxi passenger continue resourcefully by torchlight, like battlefield medics.

With motorcycle ownership in sub-Saharan Africa increasing from less than five million in 2010 to an estimated 27 million in 2022, the rate of death and injury from road crashes has similarly surged.

In Togo, 72 per cent of all road deaths are due to motorcycles, accounting for 681 lost lives in 2021. Latest data suggests there were 189 motorcycle deaths in December alone, a horrifying statistical high in the small West African nation which tops the continent’s motorcycle accident tables.

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