BY USMAN MOHAMMED, SEPTEMBER 25, 2023 | 12:54 PM
Tricycle riders popularly known as Keke Napep have decried the shortage of passengers as a result of the recent procurement of metro buses by Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, the state governor.
As part of his government’s efforts to lessen the effects of the hardship visited on residents by removal of petroleum subsidy, Gov. Zulum put into use 70 buses to boost existing metro transportation services.
He said his government consider it as a social service and not as a revenue generation drive; but while this has truly served its purpose, it crashed down the cost of transport such that keke riders find it difficult to cope.
Some of them spoken to say the effort is good for residents of the state but not yet favorable to their decade old business.
Abubakar Ali, 50, who spent decades in the public transport sector, told our reporter that the situation is now compounded further by what is already a difficult situation for them since the removal of subsidy.
'Zulum means a lot to the people of Borno at all costs, we are behind him from the beginning, but in this, we are calling on him to check and balance the situation, because we are losing our job.
'My tricycle is literally older than my age, I hoped to get more money to the owner and change a new one but I cannot bring this issue to the owner because he is not benefiting from the little balance I give him.
'I used to pay N1,500 every day, but now because of the situation the same amount goes for two days, and sometimes I go home with nothing after that.
‘The little passengers we used to have are now resorting to taking the bus because is cheaper,' he added.
Another rider,Allawan Jidda, who commended the government for the intervention said:
'I am very happy with what the governor did by providing the buses, but I want to tell him that we the Keke Napep riders are losing our jobs, I used to pay N3, 000 as a daily balance but now I'm not talking about paying the balance, my concern now is how to put a portion of food on a table of over ten people under me.
'I am lucky that the owner of my tricycle understands the situation, he received any amount of money I gave him, but I believe it is not going to continue like that, I'm afraid he may sell off the tricycle because the business is not paying,' he said.
Since they pay revenue—a N100 per working day—they pleaded with the government to take another look at the situation.
Gambo Mohammed, another operator also said 'before we start running Keke Napep we have to pay via Remita to Borno State Transportation Management Agency BOTMA, we are buying tickets for N100 every day, so we are generating revenue for the government.
'Now we lost 80 per cent of our passengers to the Metro bus service,’ Mr. Ali said, added that it has become a clear threat to the only business they know.
In an interview, Alhaji Kurso Grema, who is the chairman, National Tricycle and Motor Owners and Riders Association, said though the buses are meant to ease transportation for citizens, their members are losing their jobs.
He said the government can help them too to bring down the price of transportation per drop by subsidizing petrol prices for them, noting that the same way the buses are being supported to provide cheaper services.
'We are law-abiding citizens, and we are committed to following whatever decision brought by the government, but we are calling on the government to look into the matter again.
'We want the government to look at how we deal with the fuel pump price in the meantime, or we should have our private filling station for our members so that the current price per ride of N150 will go down to N50 or N60.
'We lost over 80 per cent of our passengers because of the implementation of the buses, we have over 25, 000 tricycles that are active within the state, the N100 daily dues have come to stay.
'We know that our contribution to the government by paying our daily dues has so far yielded positive results, the governor has provided a good road, flyover, and pedestrian bridges, and we are confident that he will act on this issue and deal with it like always,' the Chairman added.
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