With just a few days to her daughter’s wedding, Alhaja Aminat could not contain her excitement. It had always been her dream, to witness her daughter’s wedding in grand style. After exchanging pleasantries with a few neighbours, she set out to the market to get expensive cloth materials.
As a faster means of transportation, she had opted for a tricycle on her way back home; little did she know that it was going to be a death trap. The tricycle she boarded had weaved its way amidst two trucks and got stuck. While the tricycle driver tried to wriggle out of the mess, a chain on one of the trucks caught Alhaja Aminat’s lace blouse and all efforts to remove this proved futile. Almost immediately, the road was free and the truck dragged her down from the tricycle and unto to her death.
With a population of over 20 million inhabitants, Lagos mega city is renowned for the presence of huge gridlock in almost all the major areas in the state. In an effort to improve transportation system in Lagos state, several transportation means have been introduced: Danfo, Molue, Motorcycles, Bus Rapid Transits, and the tricycles are not left out.
Following the recent ban placed on motorcycles as a result of accidents recorded on bikes, the tricycle became accepted as the newer safer and faster substitute. It was considered a safer substitute because of the considerable amount of protection it had from outside elements. Information gathered also indicates that the Napep, as a poverty eradication scheme, accommodates more people, accrues more money than the motorcycle.
However, there seem to be a twist in the glamorous history of Keke Napep in Lagos state. Recently, accident rates involving tricycles is skyrocketing based on media reports. Residents and commuters complain of the recklessness of the drivers of these tricycles who seem to be on a mission: a mission to murder.
Speaking with New Telegraph, Mr. Chris Nwachukwu, a resident of Ejigbo area said that the recklessness of the tricycle drivers is gradually on an incredible increase in the state, “If I say that the Keke Napep or Maruwa as is commonly is still being operated with much responsibility; that would be a lie. The way these people drive now is not good at all. I call for thorough checking on the activities of these drivers who behave like mad men. I’m speaking from experience. I usually board a Keke Napep from my house to Idimu and the way they drive sometimes makes you want to eat out your heart. They do not even care about themselves not to talk of the passengers. If you complain to them, they do not want to listen to you.”
He averred that accidents are not really recorded on the road, but believes that there should be a check on the activities of these drivers who maneuver their ways around big vehicles capable of crushing the tricycle and its occupants.
Mrs. Iyabo Ayanwale stated that because of the portable nature and capacity of the tricycle, she prefers it to other means of transport but that the way the drivers operate nowadays is irresponsible.
According to her, Keke Napep drivers do not observe traffic guidelines that are meant to protect road users. She said, “As someone who sweats a lot, I preferred the Keke Napep to Yellow Buses because Maruwa accommodates less people and allows for air to come in but I don’t like the way they drive now. It is now very annoying. They climb bumps anyhow and jerk too constantly as if the people there are not human beings.”
She added that she doesn’t board the tricycle again, since the time she witnessed an accident scene that was caused by the tricycle driver.
Mr. Ojo Adewole, a driver, believes that the cause of the recklessness of these drivers is because there is no check on the activities of the drivers by the LASTMA officials. “It is very obvious that the Maruwa drivers do not observe the bumps on the roads, traffic lights, or even LASTMA directives, but I believe that the LASTMA officials are the ones to be blamed. I have been in situations where the Maruwa driver would just drive past long lanes even when a LASTMA official is there and the official won’t say anything to that. If it was a bus, they would run after the bus and make the driver face the consequences but why is Maruwa an exception?” he quipped.
He asserted that the free hands the LASTMA officials had given to the Maruwa drivers is the cause of the constant carelessness of the drivers and refusal to look into it would result in an uncontrollable situation, which he believes, is already happening. “The other day, a Keke Napep driver almost hit a LASTMA official because the man thought that he had stopped vehicles from that lane so he turned his back to that lane and kept directing the vehicles on another lane. He didn’t know that a Keke Napep would surface from behind him and almost knock the life out of him; still the LASTMA did not stop the Keke Napep driver.”
Speaking with New Telegraph, some of the tricycle drivers in the state debunked the claims that they were driving recklessly.
Mr. Kolawole Oyekan, a tricycle driver claims that he does not drive recklessly and knows that his colleagues do not also; that the allegations of reckless driving are unnecessary and unfair to their trade, “As commercial drivers, our own duty is to transport people to their destinations not to drive them to their death. My own Keke, the Lagos state government empowered me with it so that I can make money with it and I follow the rules and regulations guiding this business. I don’t drive anyhow, I observe traffic light and I respect LASTMA officials. Those people don’t tolerate nonsense, they are friends with transporters but if you go against the law, you can never go scot-free.”
Another driver, who prefers to be known as Sulaiman told New Telegraph that he believes there are some people who want to kick out the Keke Napep scheme from Lagos state. “We don’t drive recklessly at all. Lagos is not an ordinary state were actions can go unchecked, there are appropriate measures in place to checkmate recklessness and we dare not contravene these rules, we observe them to the letter because if we get caught in any trouble, that might cost us our means of livelihood and you know that a jobless man is a dead man. Please help us tell them that we are responsible people who know how to do our jobs well. We will and are always ready to serve Lagosians.”
LASTMA officials also respond to the allegations of the unwarranted freedom granted to Keke Napep drivers in the state. An official who preferred to stay anonymous stated that the claims were untrue and fallacious as LASTMA officials perform their duties as expected.
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