Kaduna — Many residents of Kaduna are purchasing second hand bicycles due to its affordability, and the traders who are mainly youths, are smiling to the banks.
Many bicycles of various sizes are on display for sale along Kano road by Tudun Nupawa, Kaduna. Findings showed that most of the sellers are youths.
Rabiu Muhammad, a 25-year-old resident of Kaduna, said he entered the business more than 10 years ago.
"Then, I had a bicycle which was always hired by peers to ride at a rate of N5 to N10 depending on how long it was used," he said.
"Now, I do take the bicycle to a football field or a street that I have friends who know I give it out on hire. One of my friends or a customer might get interested in buying bicycles, I can also sell it and buy another and continue with my hiring business.
"As time passed, I started travelling to Lagos to buy second-hand bicycles ranging from five to seven while giving it to dealers to help me sell. Later, I attached myself with a friend using one shop to sell our goods," he said.
Rabiu noted that the business has being his source of income as he has not known any other source of income since his childhood.
"I still travel to Lagos to get bicycles. The little size we have is 10 followed by 14, 16, 18, 20, 24," he said, explaining that unlike brand new bicycles that come in different parts second-hand bicycles are assembled with certain faults that require repair.
He added: "For instance, the rim of a bicycle might be broken. At times, the tube will not be there so I service it or completely change a part that has spoilt and for a bicycle to look neat and be sold nicely, I wash and paint it if there is any scratch."
He stated that the facelift given to bicycles involves the expertise of others, thereby serving as a source of income for them.
Musa Muhammad who repairs faulty bicycles, said he learned the trade from his father before he died and continued from where he stopped.
"I was born into the business of bicycle repair more than 20 years ago, there have been great improvement from where I started and with God's help, I have achieved a lot. I have built my own house and I am able to take care of my responsibilities," he said.
He added: "When bicycles are brought for repairs, they come in whole and not fully coupled, I check it thoroughly to see what repairs are needed and if the cable has cut, it is replaced with a new one, then it would be taken to those who would wash it and if it is rusty it would painted with the aim of making it look new."
Commenting on the increase in the population of bicycle users in the state, he said, "More people are buying bicycles. If you look at it, there is no money in the country so parents are trying to be moderate in the ways they spend money. For instance, a parent that gives a child N100 for transportation on a daily basis while going to school, in a week he would spend N500. If that parent is finding it difficult to, they rather think of getting a bicycle for N10,000."
The Director of AY Marhaba, Aliyu Yusuf, a bicycle merchant, said he choose to employ youths because they are falling prey to social vices.
"I was once like them and I know what it feels like coming from a poor home. Before I used to put bicycles on hire to little kids to ride, presently, I have different shops employing these boys to manage for me. This business is not just about buying and selling but also about hand work or skills that can be used for other purposes," he said.
He added: "Working here has given some of them life time opportunities. There are some who just got married and one was recently recruited into the Nigerian Army due to the influence of a customer who admired his good character, so apart from the work, they learn other good things and I try to instill discipline in them because they serve as the image of my company.
"Some of them are students and due to the condition of their parents, they are taking care of themselves."
He explained that those going to school are given specific time to resume and close daily in order to allow them attend to their studies.
Another youth, Manir Habib, said he grew up knowing his father as a bicycle repairer and he encouraged him to learn the trade.
"Where I stay, it is not unusual to see youths falling into hard drugs, bad gangs and other social vices, that is why I held tight to the job with a strong grip since then," he said.
"Before, I used to paint, so that gave me the knowledge of painting other things. Also, the owner of the shop I stay is not usually around because he has other businesses to attend to, so when he comes, we make calculation of what I sold, he removes his profit and gives me my commission, which adequately takes care of my family's daily needs."