The tricycle popularly called Keke Napep, is a three-wheel vehicle that comes mostly in yellow and green colours. It was into the transportation system to replace commercial motorcycles popularly called Achaba in most parts of the Northern states of Nigeria.
Before the coming of the tricycles, commercial motorcyclists had been associated with many crimes ranging from kidnapping, recklessness, snatching of ladies handbags and phones and political assassination. Then recent instances when Boko Haram terrorists used the commercial motorcycles to facilitate their criminal activities prompted the then Kano State governor, Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso, to ban them from operating in Kano. This ban was issued for security reasons and to also reduce the rate of crime in the state.
Interestingly, these tricycles came at the time when most Kano residents were yearning for a safer substitute to the commercial motorcycles. Introduction of the tricycles brought much joy to the masses who could not afford to pay the exorbitant fares charged by the taxi drivers.
Shortly after the introduction of the tricycles, our hopes were dashed and our joy soon turned to sorrow. The same tricycles we were jubilating about became another killer in disguise. More atrocities like rape, abduction, killings, amongst others, were committed on a daily basis by the tricycle operators.
Expressing his view on the issue of tricycles, Bashar Tauhid Sidi, a 400-Level student of Mass Communications Department, Bayero University Kano, said, “I always disagree with people when they say tricycle accidents are fatal because I love riding in them. This belief ended one Friday evening when my friend and I boarded a tricycle to go buy some foodstuff. On our way back, the driver of the tricycle, who was on high speed tried to overtake a vehicle, but suddenly ran into a stationary lorry parked opposite our school gate. Luckily, I was the only one that sustained a minor injury. My friend, Don Zaki and the tricyclist ended up at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH.”
Mrs Uchuwa Lawal, a resident of Sabon Gari recalled her experience this way: “In March, I boarded a tricycle in front of my house to Kantin Kwari market to buy some wrappers for my younger brother’s wedding. On alighting from the tricycle, I paid my fare and walked away, leaving behind my luggage. Until date am still waiting for my luggage to be returned.”
Mal. Zubairu, 38, a resident of Rijiyar Zaki and also a tricyclist, said, “Honestly most of us are good but the bad ones have given us all a bad name. Some can drive well while others can’t. Secondly, most of the younger ones do take drugs before coming out to display their reckless driving skills. Most of them only take the tricycles on rent or hire and do bother if it gets damaged. Anyone that wants to give out his tricycle on hire, should make sure he gives they give it out to responsible people.”
It is obvious that these tricycles have done us more harm than good. The security operatives should device a means of curbing their activities by either organising seminars that will focus on the rudiments of safe driving or creating a union for them where one can report any case of misconduct by the tricyclists. Also laws should be put in place to regulate their activities.
Also, Chief Superintendent of Police, Shuaibu Bello, Commandant, Police Mobile Force (PMF) 45, Force Headquarters Abuja, who served as Divisional Police Officer (DPO) at various stations in Kano, namely, Nassarawa, Noman’s land, Gwagwarwa, Zaria Road, Sabon Gari, among others, said from 2013 the year that tricycles were introduced in Kano till 2016, when he left for Abuja, he recorded so many complaints from victims of the activities of tricyclists on a daily basis. While some were cases of accidents, some were cases of theft, abduction, robbery cases to mention a few. He also said though cases of accidents has reduced compared to the era of motorcycles, there is still more to be done by the road traffic management agencies as many of the tricyclists lack driving skills and are ignorant of traffic rules.
The state government should come to the rescue of masses by procuring state-owned buses that will ply the nooks and crannies of the state. This will not just reduce the sufferings of the masses but also help in creating a crime free society. A stitch in time saves nine.
► Deborah Phillips wrote in from the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano.