If tri-cycle operation is banned in Akwa Ibom State, can the State survive? How would people manage their lives without keke?
This is a poser that has remained as mind boggling to me ever since I scanned through a national daily last week and came by an article which the writer, a free thinker, as he describes himself, asserted that any state that uses tri-cycle as common means of transportation or mass transit is having an irresponsible government in place. To me, this was a shocking and worrisome commentary by weight of the comment, and by simple assessment. Where it shocked me most till now is, which side of the divide our state belongs. It is a good and irresponsible side, or bad but responsible? If by assessment, can our government be recommended as not being irresponsible since our state capital thrive with tri-cycle for everything? I have tried since last week to squash that irresponsible thought from my mind, but it influence keeps recurring with a resounding bewilderment that forced out the boring sound of ‘sai” from my month. One thing that disturbs is when viewed against the back drop of a lovely state with a lovely leader with sound mannerism, his spirit of accommodating, his zeal to lift up the state, governor Udom Emmanuel should not be measured with anything termed to be irresponsible because of “Keke Napep”. Why I stamp my foot on capital NO, is that this governor’s second name is “Mr. Turn Around”. As Udom is rekindling effort to turn Akwa Ibom State that once was known as a civil service state to industrial hub of the South-South, no man whether possessed or drugged can rightly reduce Akwa Ibom, his state to a state of irresponsible government. Our governor is responsible, and his team comprises of responsible men and women.
However, the hard question is how can we cross that line of irresponsibility to the era of attaining our goals in little things of this nature that we do not count as something? Take note that those things that drag people to danger do not possess big legs. They have tiny and small legs. Therefore, tri-cycle with small three tyres are equal to that. And our state’s near permanent love for it, is incomprehensible.
What is wrong with our dear “keke” that we are trying to donate to out riders for official purposes? Is it not to beat unemployment as young men are falling over themselves for empowerment? As a dry state that cannot afford buses and taxis, why not make do with tri-cycle that has many advantages to its operators? No license, no special training or skills to operate it, no educational qualification, nothing is needed than the ability to pull the keke. For that I should plead with Akwa Ibomites to join me in condemning the man who condemned our dear keke, but with a hind sight.
Government lack of interest
The only thing to note is the government’s lack of interest and love for the people. Since the high ups lack of love for the masses is so clear, they do not have sympathy even for school children, like Tselu, the Chinese Philosopher had for a simple wretched widow in the suburb of Beijing when he stopped his car to save her from dangerous point. If the government cares, and one day stop its retinue on the road, and see how children are packed inside a tricycle, should that not evoke sympathy? Since we are Nigerians and our lives means nothing to us, that is why our government ignores capsizing of tri-cycle with children that killed children and injured them over time. If tricycle were luxury, why shouldn’t the house help of the high government official use it to /
the market? It is not so because in Nigeria, the gap between the rich and the poor is so wide that it cannot be narrowed a little.
Stanford Microfinance formula
Everything in our country, the officials lament for private sector participation in developing the nation. While doing that, they forget about provision of the basic needs to the masses which is central in having a government. For that defect that has remained in our fabric, government neglects the primary duty of providing amenities for the public. As running a suitable transport system is a luxury in Akwa Ibom State, every eye turns to tri-cycle to be the best mass transit system of Akwa Ibom State, irrespective of it attendant problem of aiding and abating criminality. For political consideration, government donates tri-cycles for the poor masses to go and kill themselves. None imagines a single business man who brings in mini buses to compete and replace the tri-cycle. Now that the world is acknowledging the government that uses keke for mass transit as irresponsible government do we agree that we have failed those we suppose to govern for their good? Very soon election year will be around those who want to enrich themselves will come out with sugar coated tongue. They will deceive the tri-cycle operators by classifying them as foot soldiers. After that what happens next is ‘keke’ empowerment. Can a keke driver not drive a mini bus if given? Can an idle school leaver not become a bus conductor of mini bus to gain a living? Must it only be keke? If the government of Akwa Ibom floods Uyo with over two thousand mini buses that carries seven passengers each, will there be any room again for keke? If all the keke operators turn to bus drivers is that not a promotion for them?
Our government is not doing much in the area of mass transit. They look at Akwa Ibom people with ignominy believing that they are to suffer all forms of humiliation. For the love of the people, states like Lagos, Cross River, Rivers and Kwarra have shifted keke Napep to corners. They flood their states with something meaningful and safer for people’s use. But here, other states who have assessed Akwa Ibom as Okada state have brought tri-cycles of different wheels and make to flourish in Uyo. Tri-cycle can be blown off by an oncoming vehicle of high capacity, with the rate the operators drive the three tyre machine with recklessness. It happens many times. Competing the speed lane with cars is the worst habit they grow. The risk of all this is not taken into consideration after taking a psycho active substance to charge them up. As our government forgotten all about putting buses and cars on the road, the tri-cycle should not be allowed to drive on the high way for the sake of risk to passengers and the operator himself.
Government should carve out routes that the tri-cycle should operate, and their operating standard should be ganged by safety personnel.
For Akwa Ibom to cross the line of irresponsible government, tri-cycle should be phased out gradually by having a good number of mini buses in its place.
By Matts Udoaka