Amid the restriction of movement of tricycles popularly called ‘Keke’ in Plateau State, it is not uncommon for some residents to trek long distances to get to and from their workplaces due to the ban however, to cash in on the ban, some car owners who are women in the state have turned the private cars for commercial purposes, ACHOR ABIMAJE writes.
Following the ban on tricycle operations popularly called ‘Keke’ by Plateau State Government as a result of rising insecurity in the state, hundreds of commuters in Jos and Bukuru metropolis were seen on the street in their various communities stranded as a result of the ban. However, it was observed that the development, in turn, created an opportunity for some women in the state as they turned their private cars for commercial use to make a living.
These women were seen in Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) of all sorts like Toyota Highlander, Kia Jeep, and Honda Jeep. Other private cars used include Toyota Corolla, Camry, and Peugeot 406. They convey passengers during the peak period for N200 and N150 or N100 during the off-peak period.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that these women, who turned their private cars into cabs, were plying Tudun Wada to Ahmadu Bello Way, Jenta Ademu to Apata, and other Keke routes in the state capital to help ameliorate the suffering of commuters.
One of the women, Martha Pam, told our correspondent in Jos that she was touched by the suffering of the commuters who cannot endure long trekking.
Pam said most often than not, commuters were seen standing endlessly for hours inside the rain or sun by the roadside while waiting to board a cab to their destination after a strong jostle.
According to her, ‘’It is not uncommon to see women standing by the roadside inside the rain,’’ she said.
She said most women decided to turn the situation to make a fortune by using their private cars to convey commuters to their destination while making more money to support her family.
The women, however, ply the trade amidst competition from the male folks who are also private car owners. Basically, the men were not left out. They were also seen struggling and competing with these women to pick up commuters with their cars.
Another private car owner, Shinlat Tabitha (not real name) said she used the short period to get more money to complement her husband’s monthly wage. She said her husband, who is a civil servant, monthly remuneration is always not enough to cater to the needs of the family.
‘’I am not lazy. I am proud of this, and it has indeed helped my family to cope amidst rising inflation,’’ she said.
She said the capacity of many households to purchase daily and essential needs became tougher, during the government-imposed curfew amid high inflation and stagnated earnings, especially among low and middle-income earners.
‘’This development is forcing many to depend on loans, families, and friends for sustenance. I cannot do any of this. It is ridiculous, and that is why I joined other women to make a living from this,’’ she said.
Recall that a 100 level student of the University of Jos Iyaje Abuma Shedrack was reportedly stabbed to death by hoodlums close to the permanent site when he boarded a tricycle.
It was gathered that the incident happened when normal activities were gradually returning in the state capital after the governor relaxed the 24-hours curfew.
The president, Student Union Government (SUG), Comrade Joshua Adankala, who confirmed the development to newsmen in Jos said the victim boarded a tricycle from the permanent site of the university to the main campus but was pulled out of the tricycle and stabbed to death.
Similarly, another student of the institution was stabbed to death by a commercial tricyclist.
The deceased was identified as Jeremiah Mathews Dalong, a 100-level student of the Geology Department. He boarded a tricycle to the main campus of the university when he was also pulled out of the Keke after he was stabbed by the tricyclist.
A source close to the institution disclosed that the rider suddenly stopped at Bauchi road, stabbed the student in broad daylight and pushed him out of the tricycle.
Worried over the killing of innocent students of the University who boarded these tricycles by hoodlums, Plateau State Government after the State Security Council meeting banned the operators of tricycles from operating in Jos and Bukuru metropolis on 31st August, 2021.
It was alleged that some of these hoodlums do disguise themselves as Keke drivers to attack innocent students and passengers. The government cited security concerns for the ban after alleging that Keke was used as a tool to commit the heinous crimes in Jos North and Jos South local government area of the state capital.
The enforcement of the law was greeted with stiff resistance, particularly by those who thought the move was targeted at a particular section of the society, but the government stood its ground and weeded the Keke riders off the streets.
As against this background tricycles, operators had earlier embarked upon a planned protest to register their grievance over the ban.
Tricycles riders under the umbrella of the United People Association of Keke riders, Plateau State Chapter appealed to the governor to lift the ban on the movement of tricycles in Jos and Bukuru.
The union leaders said the decision was already causing untold hardship to commuters, the riders, and families.
Meanwhile, in order to ameliorate the suffering of commuters and after stakeholders meeting to review the security situation in Jos Bukuru metropolis Plateau State Government has announced a further relaxation of the curfew in Jos North Local Government Area as well as lifting the ban earlier placed on operations of tricycles.
With this development, the people of Jos North and Jos South LGA have heaved a sigh of relief.
According to a statement issued by the director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr. Simon Makut Macham said governor Simon Lalong approved the curfew in Jos North will be enforced from 10 pm to 6 am.
He said this will tally with the current status of the curfew in Jos South and Bassa Local Government Areas remains from 10 pm to 6 am.
Similarly, Governor Lalong also approved the ban placed on operations of tricycles will be lifted from 6 am to 6 pm daily. This means that no tricycle will be allowed to operate between 6 pm to 6 am.
However, the statement further noted that the ban on motorcycles within the Jos/Bukuru Metropolis remains intact as enforcement will continue to ensure that violators are arrested and punished according to the law.
The statement reads in part: “The government is working on innovations, legislation, and enforcement modules for enhancing the security, effectiveness, and availability of public transportation in the state, which will be unveiled in due course and is expected to address the major concerns of the citizens particularly as it relates to the safety of passengers.”
Governor Lalong, while appreciating the cooperation and understanding of the citizens during the period of the attacks and subsequent curfews, urges them to continue to support the government in restoring normalcy to enable the state to resume its normal trajectory of hospitality, opportunity, and productivity.