By Waliu Adeyeri
Commercial tricycle, popularly called Keke Marwa has become a regular means of transportation for most Nigerians.
While most Nigerians depend on them for their daily commute, few are aware of what the average Keke Marwa goes through to ply their trade daily.
In this interview with TheNewsBeam, Mr. Samuel, a tricycle rider, took us deep into the world of Keke Marwa riders, explaining their agonising experience in the hands of government and union officials. He also provides insights into why reckless driving is increasing among riders.
My name is Samuel, I am from Enugu State. I am married with three kids
What’s your level of Education?
It is as though I did not go to school because I stopped at the primary level.
When did you come to Lagos?
I arrived in Lagos in 2010.
What brought you to Lagos?
To hustle. I came to Lagos to make ends meet.
On your arrival in Lagos, what business did you engage in?
I worked with an inter-state transport company. The company conveys passengers from Lagos to the East.
Why did you leave the job?
The owner of the company died and the company was running down. So I had to leave in search of another business. This brought me into this Keke Marwa (Tricycle) business.
Since when have you been in the tricycle business?
Since November, 2020.
What led you into it?
Family pressure. My wife doesn’t like me traveling every time from Lagos to the East. She is usually afraid. And coupled with the death of my boss I had to change my source of living.
Could you tell us how you began this business?
It was with the help of my wife. I cannot thank her enough for her support. She linked me with her friend’s husband who is into the business. He taught me how to ride the tricycle.
Are you certified by the state government and do you have a riders’ licence?
I am certified, I have my rider’s licence with me.
Is the tricycle yours?
It is mine, though I have not completed the payment.
How much do you acquire the tricycle and when did you get it?
I got it in instalments for N700,000. I pay N20,000 monthly to settle the debt.
What routes do you ply?
Elepe – Sabo, Ikorodu, Lagos.
How often do you work daily and weekly?
Sometimes I work every day if I have not met up with my monthly target.
How much do you earn daily?
I make about N4,000 – N5,000 daily sometimes, but I end up returning home sometimes with N1,000 or N2,000 due to the painful extortion by councils and our task forces.
How are you able to meet up with your daily expenses with the amount you earn?
As I said earlier, I appreciate my wife because she has been supportive. She is a teacher in a school. Many times whenever I am broke she would make soup and settle some bills with her money.
Sometimes she would lend me money to settle my monthly payment if I’m unable to pay. She is an angel sent to me. I will always be indebted to her.
What are the challenges you face in this business?
The major challenge we face is extortion. We spend about N2,000 daily on tickets.
At first, we purchased N1,000 tickets from the park daily. The Local Government also sells tickets to us at N100 which we had to get 2 daily, 1 from the point of departure and the second one is purchased at Itamaga. Also, the task forces collect N100 for checking our tickets and stickers.
Another money we pay yearly is for the association’s sticker. I sincerely do not know the essence of these tickets, they are a means of extorting poor Keke Marwa owners, making it difficult to pay for our Keke.
What if you failed to get the tickets?
You pay a fine of about N3,000 to the council for failure to purchase the tickets. While some parts of my Keke may be seized by the Area Boys working for the Union.
Sometimes defaulters get a series of punches or slaps from these hooligans for not purchasing the Union’s ticket or sticker.
Do you see yourself doing this business in the next 5 years?
I didn’t even see myself in the business in the next two years, talkless of 5 years. I am fed up with the suffering and extortion I face from some elements who do not go through the stress of riding this Keke. I will rather look for another business.
Have you had an accident with your tricycle?
Yes, I have.
Could you tell us how it happened and who you think was at fault?
It happened in December, I was facing oncoming traffic in one way. I tried to dodge a motorcycle but I was unaware of the second one coming which led to a collision.
Many people say commercial tricycle riders are careless road users, what’s your take on this?
Yes, some tricycle riders are careless when using the road. The only reason I see this is the increasing number of Okada riders who have started riding tricycles.
What’s your most memorable ordeal in this business and how were you able to scale through?
I think my first accident is the most memorable ordeal I have ever had in this business.
What’s the first thing to do before starting this business?
The first thing to do is to learn how to ride the tricycle. After that, you apply for the rider’s licence so that you can be certified. You may now proceed to the acquisition of a tricycle which could be by direct purchase or payment by instalment.
What’s your advice for anyone planning to venture into this business?
My advice to prospective tricycle riders is that you avoid buying by instalment, you can try to get your friend to get it for you while you refund him gradually.