Motorcycle business is one of the many businesses in Kano that provides a means of livelihood for millions of people; from the dealers, distributors, assemblers to end users.
Recently, the state government banned the use of motorcycles along some routes in Kano Forest with the view to blocking any possible spillover of security threats from neighbouring states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto. This was in addition to the earlier ban on commercial motorcycling in the state and many other states in the north due to the activities of Boko Haram insurgents.
Daily Trust Saturday takes a look at how the business has been faring in Kano.
Bayan Wapa area of Fagge, in Fagge Local Government Area of metropolitan Kano, is the pivotal area around which the motorcycle business revolves.
Alhaji Aminu Lawan Sabo is one of the major dealers in motorcycles. He told Daily Trust Saturday that motorcycles are imported into the country through some major companies, who in turn distribute to the major dealers and retailers.
“In Kano here, we have companies like Day Long, Royal, Lifan, Kasea and Bourjson, among others, that bring in the goods. Even though their head offices are in Lagos, they have branches here through which they distribute to dealers like me,” he said.
“We sell mainly to individuals who purchase for their personal use. There are also sub-dealers who come from neighbouring states of Katsina, Jigawa and Gombe to buy from us in bulk,” he added.
He explained that for individual buyers, there are some young men who assemble the motorcycle parts together because they come in pieces in their cartons. But for the sub-dealers, goods are mostly transported to their destinations in their cartons. Some of them who have people to assemble it for them will do it there, while for others, assemblers are sent from Kano to do the job for them.
Reacting to the recent ban on the use of motorcycles in some parts of Kano by the state government due to security issues, Alhaji Lawan said the development will affect the business in the state.
“Most or all of the areas affected by the ban are rural areas and you know how much they use motorcycles there. There are no motorable roads in most of the areas, so they use motorcycles for their transportation and for moving their farm produce.
“So, when you say they should not use motorcycles, you are making life miserable for them. I think there are many ways through which government can improve the security situation such as engaging more youth into the security agencies like police and civil defense, as well as adopting technology for security checking,” he said.
Another dealer, Ibrahim Hamisu Hassan, also told Daily Trust Saturday that despite the ban on commercial motorcycle, the business is still booming, largely due to the fact that motorcycles are the most common means of transportation for the larger part of the society.
“Not many can own a private car among the masses, and naturally bicycles are not the answer; so, many from the middle class resort to having their own motorcycles, especially for transportation within cities and town. Equally, when you go villages, it is their major means of transport,” he explained.
Alhaji Aminu Muhammad Mai-Lamba, another dealer at Fagge, told Daily Trust Saturday that his daily sales on average are 15-30 motorcycles. He however decried the recent ban on the use of motorcycles in some parts of Kano.
“It has affected our sales with regard to Boxer Motorcycles which are mostly used in that area. But we thank God that in some other villages, they are still in use.
There are people who specialize in assembling new motorcycle parts, as their means of livelihood.
Ahmed Musa, popularly known as Oga Gwadabe, who says he has spent about 30 years in the business of assembling new motorcycles, explained how he started.
“I was born here in Fagge, Sanda Mai- Barewa Street. I could not proceed with my education after secondary school. I grew up to see some people doing the work, so I joined them as an errand boy. Gradually, they taught me how to couple new motorcycles.”
“I have made great fortune through this work. I have my personal house, got married, and I’m educating my children all through this work. There are still some other properties that I acquired through the work. So, I am grateful to God.”
On how much they charge to couple one motorcycle, Oga Gwadabe, said “We started with N15-20 in those days. As time went by, it rose to N200, N500 up to N1,000, and now we charge about N1,500 to N2,000, depending on the type of motorcycle.”
“I have been to Sokoto, Taraba, Bauchi, Zamfara and many other states in the North, and I have been to Lome in Togo, all to assemble new motorcycles,” he said.
“When these modern motorcycles were initially brought from China, Some Chinese were here to couple them, but when the dealers realized that they were not fast and they charge higher prices, they decided to use our services,” he added.
He also explained that on daily basis, a young man who is fast can assemble up to 10 motorcycles alone, while some others can couple at least five.
Another assembler, Abubakar Ali, is about 25 years of age. He also stopped at secondary school level in terms of education just to focus on his motorcycle coupling business.
“I realized that I cannot merge the two at the same time, so I decided to suspend my educational pursuit just to focus on this job.
“It is through this work that I built my house and I would soon get married. I also assist my parents and younger ones through this work,” he said.
Muhammad Salisu Lawan is 26 years old. He was able to combine his education with his business as a result of the assistance he got from his elder brother. Lawan acquired a diploma certificate in English/Education.
“Here, we spend the whole day, so on school days, I would not come here until after closing hours, and I also come on weekends. With the help from my elder brother, I didn’t have to bother much about what I would earn here. So, whatever I was earning here was just used to complement what my brother did.
Haruna Muhammad is about 20 years old. He has been in the business of assembling motorcycle parts for three years. He said he would love to continue with his education if not for the fact that it will not be easy to combine his work with any other thing.
“I really want to continue with my education because no one knows what the future holds. There could be a time when this business will not pay anymore, in that case if you have an educational qualification you can switch to some white-collar work,” he said.
Mustafa Ayuba is 13 years old and an apprentice. He goes to school and comes to learn after closing hours. “I use what I earn to buy exercise books and biro,” he said.
What remains to be seen is the measures government would take to cushion the effect of motorcycle ban on the business, as well as its assistance in terms of empowerment to youths who are engaged in assembling motorcycle parts.