22 January 2012

Nigeria: Keke Napep Threatens Okada Business in Bauchi

Transportation is without gainsaying, very paramount in the life of the people. In fact, it could be asserted that without transportation, there would be no or stunted development in the society.

Nowadays people use bicycles, motor cycles and cars etc to move from one place to another. While those who have no vehicles of their own opt for commercial means of transportation to take them to their destinations.

Some years back, the most popular means of commercial transportation patronized in Bauchi to various destinations were taxis. Taxis, at the time, plied all the metropolitan roads, carrying passengers to various places of work or business. But with the advent of commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada, in the state, this business was taken over from the taxi drivers who eventually quit the business in the metropolis to carry only passengers traveling to villages.

Since then, the Okada operators have monopolized the transportation business in the state for more than a decade now, recording high turnover everyday. LEADERSHIP SUNDAY gathered that a commercial motorcyclist gets about N1000 to N1800 daily in the business despite their ever-growing number in the state.

But the recent advent of tricycles commonly known as KEKE NAPEP, LEADERSHIP SUNDAY gathered, has equally threatened the business of Okada riders as their patronage from passengers has drastically reduced by every passing day. Our correspondent observed that in the next few years, Okada operators may become history like the taxi service, considering the continued popularity the KEKE NAPEP is gaining from among the people. Although the KEKE NAPEP is mostly being patronized by women, it has reduced quite a number of passengers from Okada.

In an interview with one Keke NAPEP operator, Malam Abdullahi Koch Mailodi, at Keke NAPEP park near the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, he stated that the advent of the commercial tricycles in Bauchi has indeed reduced the popularity of Okada riders. He claimed that people prefer them because they are safer than Okada whose riders are reckless on the streets. He further said even the Okada operators are now leaving their motorcycles for KEKE NAPEP because it brings more money as it could carry at least, three or four passengers at the same time.

The KEKE NAPEP drivers also claimed that their vehicles are not only better than Okada but even the taxis because they could also take passengers to their door-steps. On the level of patronage, Mailodi disclosed that they get at least N1,500 to N2,500 daily in the business which helps them to cater for themselves and their dependants.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY however, gathered that most of the KEKE NAPEP passengers in Bauchi are women and that would be attributed to so many reasons. For instance, the operators of KEKE NAPEP decorate their vehicles with curtains and play music to entertain their customers unlike the Okada.

Another thing that distinguishes Keke NAPEP with commercial motorcyclist is that each KEKE rider writes some unique attractive inscriptions on his tricylesuch that whenever he passes, he could easily be recognized by his clients. These inscriptions are mostly in Hausa Proverbs such as 'yaro bai san wuta ba', yaro da kudi', 'iya kudinka iya shagalinka' etc. But as the KEKE operators claim to have taken over from Okada in Bauchi, the deputy chairman Bauchi State chapter of the Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Riders and Owners of Nigeria [ACOMORAN] MALAM Ubale Ahmed, has refuted the claim saying that they are still popular among passengers. He added that the coming of the Keke NAPEP into the state has not reduced the patronage of Okada because Bauchi's population is always on the increase.

Ubale said that apart from that, some people prefer Okada because all the previous complaints on the reckless riding among Okada riders are now Keke NAPEP operators, stock-in-trade. He, however, admitted that women do patronize KEKE more than Okada. The Okada Riders in summation, have to compete spiritedly to outsmart Keke operators.

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