ABOUT 10 years back, nobody ever thought that tricycle which is popularly known as ‘Keke Marwa’ or ‘Keke NAPEP’ could ever be a money spinner or a commercial success as a form of business. Today, it has since become a major form of transportation both in rural and urban centres across the through which many Nigerians earn their living, including graduates who find it hard to secure white-collar jobs.
Incredible as this may sound, many graduates who could not easily find a place at the ever-saturated labour market have since found a credible alternative in Keke NAPEP.
One of the beneficiaries of the Keke NAPEP, Mr. Semiu Balogun, an accountancy graduate of University of Ilorin, spoke glowingly about the socio-economic advantages associated with the scheme.
Raising a poser, Balogun said: “What else do I want office job for, when I am already earning an average of N3,500.00 daily after paying for tickets and other garage dues? I’m okay and feel satisfied than many of my peers. “Most of the operators of Keke Marwa that you see around are graduates, they prefer this job because it’s earning them what most white-collar jobs cannot,” Balogun, who searched for jobs for years without much success, said unapologetically.
Balogun is not alone. Like Balogun, a lot of people see the Keke NAPEP scheme as a financial succour of some sorts.
Mr. Tunde Kareem, a tricycle driver plying Abule-Egba road to Fagba at Ojokoro-Agege area also affirmed the claim that the scheme is a blessing after all.
“I almost ran away with my family to the village before a friend opened my eyes to this business and since then my family are living fine”, he recalled.
When Mr. Oluwole Owolabi, a graduate of Business Administration from Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), who is now the chairman of tricycle operators at the Cement unit, Agege Zone 1, left paid employment as a result of redundancy and could not secure any other job, riding Keke Marwa, to him, became an option.
According to him, “tricycle business is being managed by educated people and that is why we are very organised in all our parks.”
Expatiating, Owolabi said, “In our meeting, we use to educate and orientate our executives, operators and drivers on good behaviour. This has been sustaining the good reputation that we have today.”
At inception, three mode of transportation was popularly known in Nigeria, taxicab, danfo and molue, especially in Lagos. Eventually motorcycle popularly known as okada’ in late 80’s crawled into commercial transportation service in Nigeria. However, following the government poverty eradication policy popularized by former Military Administrator of Lagos State, Brigadier General Buba Marwa, introduced tricycle to serve a dual purpose of curbing transportation problem as well as tackle the issue of youth’s unemployment in the state.
Tricycle as a means of public transportation is a success as manifested in its widespread patronage by traders, civil servants, artisans, students and business personnel. Mrs. Taiwo Obadina, one of the passengers waiting on queue at Ikeja-Alausa Unit park, said for her, riding on tricycle is a sure bet for her any day because it is a convenient means of transportation in a city like Lagos.
“I enjoy this Keke Marwa whenever I go out every day, as you can see everything is organised, no rushing or struggling like other vehicles”, Mrs. Obadina stressed.
It is also instructive to note that most tricycle operators make more money than their counterparts who use okada and others in the long run. Mr. Kabitu Lawal who plies Obalende in Lagos Island attested to this fact. According to him, “The situation in Lagos State and other parts of the state make people to prefer us because we are fast and convenient.”
The growing use of Keke Marwa since its introduction led to the birth of Three-Wheelers Association of Nigeria some years ago. Some leaders of this association took strategic steps to affiliate with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NUTRW), a body recognised by the Federal Government. The body helps to regulate the activities of commercial vehicle operators in the country.
The irony, however, is that as many Nigerians welcome this mode of transportation, others are completely averse to their activities. Those opposed to it easily cite the problem of reckless over-speeding by the operators, disobedience of traffic rules, among others. Talk of different strokes for different folks.