Exclusive Interview of the General Director of CETUD: Dr. Thierno Birahim AW

The creation of CETUD in 1997 occurred in a context of urban transport crisis characterized, on the one hand, by a rapid and sometimes anarchic acceleration of urbanization in the Dakar metropolitan area, with an annual growth rate of about 4% and a population increase of nearly 50% between 1978 and 1988, to exceed 1.5 million in 1990.

The second reason for the creation of the CETUD is the imperfect control of transport supply and demand, characterized by a low motorization rate (estimated at 34 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2003), an outdated fleet (average age of 20 years for public transport), poor quality infrastructure favoring numerous traffic conflicts and a loss of commercial speed, and transport operators in difficulty (poor management and inability to meet investment needs).

The CETUD was to put an end to the scattered decisionmaking centers that had been observed to locate final responsibility for public transport and to ensure better coordination of public transport, through a concerted approach involving the State, local authorities, and the private sector.

Since its creation, CETUD has undertaken several projects, including the following:

  • The Urban Mobility Improvement Program (PAMU), from 2002 to 2009, financed by the World Bank and the Nordic Development Fund. The program consisted of four components including infrastructure projects and the renewal of the bus fleet launched in 2005 with the creation of the Association for the Financing of Urban Transport Professionals (AFTU), to modernize urban transport and professionalize the actors. To date, more than 2,000 buses have been acquired and distributed on 128 lines in Dakar and the country's secondary cities;
  • The development of the Urban Transport Plan for the Dakar Metropolitan Area (PDUD) 2008-2025. The PDUD is a planning and programming document that defines the objectives to be achieved and the actions to be undertaken to organize, in a sustainable manner, the movement of people and goods in the urban area. It advocates the promotion of public transport and active modes (such as walking and cycling) and the rationalization of car use;
  • The Urban Mobility Improvement Project (PATMUR), starting in 2010, financed by the World Bank. One of the components of the financing was designed to strengthen, among others, CETUD, AFTU, Dakar Dem Dikk, the Petit Train de Banlieue and the Mutual Savings and Credit Union for Transporters (MECTRANS). This program also made it possible to finance studies for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or bus on reserved lanes project;
  • The development of an Urban Travel Policy Letter (LPDU). This update has allowed for an adaptation more in line with the current context of travel in the Dakar metropolitan area marked by the adoption of the Emerging Senegal Plan and the reform of local authorities (Act III of Decentralization);
  • CETUD is currently acting as project manager for the BRT project, whose work was recently launched;
  • In parallel with the BRT project, CETUD has begun restructuring the public transport network, for which technical studies are currently being carried out;

The peninsular shape of Dakar, accompanied by uncontrolled urbanization, places severe constraints on access to the center of the conurbation where most jobs are concentrated. The establishment of urban services is struggling to keep pace with the pace of urbanization, with the highest densities located in outlying areas.

Large commuting flows are carried out by private cars and buses from the eastern sectors to the center. With a network that has reached its capacity limits, travel times are getting longer and more uncertain.

Various studies carried out by CETUD show that the main causes of traffic congestion in Dakar are linked to several factors:

  • concentration of the vehicle fleet in the capital ;
  • deregulation of public transport supply;
  • low capacity of the road network with limited possibilities for extension ;
  • anarchic occupation of space;
  • an inappropriate institutional, organizational and regulatory framework;
  • a poorly adapted institutional, organizational and regulatory framework;
  • inadequate institutional, organizational, and regulatory framework; and inadequate traffic regulation systems.
  • The government has made a great deal of effort to create and develop roads (toll freeway, Voie de Dégagement Nord, Corniche Ouest, Promovilles, etc.) and to modernize public transport through the Urban Mobility Improvement Program (PAMU) and the Urban Mobility Improvement Project (PATMUR).

Nevertheless, the shortcomings persist and have significant economic (loss of competitiveness and productivity), societal (loss of quality of life and purchasing power), and environmental (pollutant emissions and noise pollution) consequences

The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a mass transit project with a first line extending 18 km from Petersen station (downtown) to the prefecture of Guédiawaye. It includes 23 stations and 3 interchange hubs, as well as a set of infrastructures (a platform exclusive to the BRT, station buildings, a depot, urban developments along the corridor as well as pedestrian facilities, etc.), an articulated bus fleet, an operating assistance and passenger information system, and a ticketing system.

The BRT has several objectives, one of which is to improve urban mobility in a sustainable manner by promoting public transportation. The option of reserved lanes or exclusive right-of-way aims to give the BRT a high level of service by guaranteeing a commercial visit that considerably reduces travel times. Secondly, the project will reduce traffic congestion by a modal shift from cars to the BRT, especially during peak hours when traffic levels are high.

The BRT project will incorporate improvements to improve traffic conditions within its perimeter of influence. The main objective of these developments is to design the travel network in the BRT's area of influence taking into account all modes with adequate choices on the management of intersections by traffic lights.

The renewal project started in 2005 and has gone through four phases of acquisition and introduction of new minibuses:

  • first phase with 505 TATA minibuses,
  • a second of 402 of brand KING LONG,
  • a third of 400 of TATA brand,
  • and a fourth one of 800 minibuses (divided into two parts of 400 TATA and 400 Ashok Leyland).

Each new minibus inserted into the urban transport network results in the physical destruction of a "Car rapide" or a "Ndiaga Ndiaye". As of February 28, 2019, 1,607 vehicles had been renewed and put into operation on the network in Dakar. The total amount mobilized for the first three phases was 36 billion FCFA.

To finalize the renewal, the fourth phase started in July 2019 at an estimated cost of 20 billion FCFA. To date, 378 kits including 318 TATA and 60 Ashok Leyland have been received and 162 minibuses have been delivered, making a total of 1,769 minibuses put into operation. Ultimately, this phase should complete the project and start the process of renewing the minibuses.


Thierno Birahim AW has a PhD in Transport Economics from Ecole des Ponts ParisTech. He has 16 years of professional experience in the field of transport and mobility in urban and regional environments.

He has been in charge, on behalf of the public and private sectors, of conducting complex studies and research, analyzing and presenting strategic recommendations, and assisting public authorities in the implementation of their projects.

This work includes regular interactions with public decision-makers, managers and operational teams and requires a good knowledge of public procurement procedures. Since 2016, he has been Director General of CETUD, which implements the important BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) pilot project on behalf of the Ministry in charge of land transport.

His career :

  • 2004-2007: Research fellow then research engineer at the Laboratoire public de recherche Ville Mobilité Transport - Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées - Université Paris Est; PhD thesis on the design and evaluation of land-use and transport scenarios (France). Highest distinction.
  • 2004-2014: Lecturer at the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées for the courses MASYT (Methods of Analysis of Territorial Systems), MOTRA (Transport Demand Modeling), Analysis of Passenger Travel Demand for the Masters TRADD (Transport and Sustainable Development) and STFG (Rail and Guided Transport Systems).
  • 2008-2014: Engineer in Transport General and Economic Studies at the SETEC international engineering company in Paris (France).
  • 2014-2016: Technical Advisor No. 1 at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Land Transport and Opening-up (Senegal).
  • Since September 2016: Director General of the Executive Council of Urban Transport of Dakar - CETUD (Senegal).