Situated on the border with northeastern Nigeria, the heartland of Boko Haram insurgents, Diffa is on high alert since it was attacked in February. Banning motorbikes like those reportedly used by the Islamists in their Diffa assault is just one of several emergency measures taken by authorities in the region to boost security.
Gone are the hundreds of motorcycle taxis known as kabu-kabu that once chugged across town day and night. Dozens of rusting two-wheelers also lie abandoned on the road linking Bosso — which also came under Boko Haram assault — and Malam Fatori, a Nigerian town across the border retaken from the militants in April. “There haven’t been any attacks since we stopped motorbikes from circulating.
The people can sleep well,” Diffa’s governor Yacouba Soumana Gaoh said. The official acknowledged that the travel restrictions had cost some kabu-kabu drivers their livelihoods, but claimed that “those who want us to let them go back to work are pro-Boko Haram”.