By Victory Oduneye
You hardly can transit within Lagos metropolis without needing the services of commercial (yellow) Volkswagen buses popularly known as ‘Danfo’. They are everywhere and they are mostly responsible for the daily transportation of the over 20 million residents of Nigeria’s commercial capital city.
But the operators of Danfo bus drivers daily go through unpalatable experiences on daily basis especially in the hands of men of the Nigerian Police Force, and touts, popularly called ‘Agberos’.
In this interview with TheNewsBeam, Afeez Ayinde, who has been in the business for 20 years, shared insights into the plight of Danfo drivers, with an appeal to the Lagos State Government to eliminate the presence and activities of Agberos from the commercial transport space.
My name is Afeez Ayinde, I’m from Osun State, I’m married with three children.
How long have you been in this business?
I’ve been in this business for 20 years
What made you go into this business?
The death of my parent made me go into this business. I was 12 years old about writing Common Entrance examination to move me into secondary school when my dad died, and since then there haven’t been anyone to help me or sponsor me to school, so I had to start the conductor work and from there I graduated to being a driver.
What is required to going into this business? Does it need some sort of registration, if yes. Registration with which body?
What you need is the vehicle, that’s the major thing. And yes it needs registration. You can register with either National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) or Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN).
Would you consider this business lucrative? On the average, how much can one make in a day as profit after all expense?
Ahaa, I wouldn’t call it lucrative, it doesn’t really bring much especially if you are not the owner of the vehicle and you have to deliver certain amount on a daily basis to the owner, you really don’t get much. Highest you make in a day is between N2,500 to N2,000.
Is your business affected by competition from Uber/Taxify and similar e-hailing transport services ?
Yes it did, our customer base is now shared with them, people who can afford it prefer them to us, because it’s easier and more comfortable. Anyway it’s for their good, as they also have to get something doing to be able to feed.
What about competition from ‘Korope’ buses ?
No ooo, korope didn’t affect us, they have their union and we know how we do our things.
What are your challenges operating commercial ‘Danfo buses?
Our number one challenge is the Police, followed by the VIOs, Road Safety, and Task force.
I said this because police can arrest you for no reason at anytime, most times they arrest us for incomplete papers, but those of us that have complete papers are also arrested for no reason. Whether you behave well or not you are open to arrest by the police in this business, and the least you pay to bail yourself with is N25,000.
Concerning the money we see that is always requested from you at major junctions what is it about and what is it used for? Please shed more light on it.
The money is used for settling themselves and our leaders in the Union, that’s all. For example the money from ‘agbero’, they call it ‘owo load’, that is money you pay for passengers that board your vehicle, and it is collected for them (agberos) to feed. That’s where they get their income. We pay certain amount of money to the Union, which i mentioned earlier. And that money is equivalent to paying tax, asides that we don’t get anything else from it.
Would you want the levy scrapped or reduced? Reasons please
Yes please, atleast it should be reduced, or they should gather the different levies together and give us a particular fee to pay, probably every week, so that they will be giving us ticket for it and we will know how much we are spending in particular for that purpose.
Apart from that, when the levies are reduced, it will help Increase the profit we make as drivers. These are some of the things that doesn’t allow us make profit, that’s why we can’t even wear good cloth.
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From your own point of view, what is the role of NURTW in this business and how important are they to effective and efficient running of the public transport business?
NURTW is a Union and it’s under the government, they help with the regulation of this business and the money we pay to them is part of what they use for our tax, that’s what I can say.
How do you think Lagos State Government can be of help to you?
Lagos State can help us by telling the Union to reduce the amount or levy they collect from us. They can scrap ‘agberos’ too and provide better job for them. And they should introduce ticketing instead of the collection of money every time.
There are talks about the state government planning to refurbish the yellow bus to become better, what is your take on it?
They cannot scrap this business or take away this business. It has been existing for long and it’s one of the trademarks of Lagos State. Anything to make it better is welcomed but scrapping it, is a no go area.
Any advice to anyone thinking of starting into the business?
Anyone wanting to go into this business, I would advise you to own the bus, it would help especially with the profit, you wouldn’t have to be delivering certain amount to the owner everyday.
And another thing is that you have to be bold, to be able to survive in this business, you have to be bold.