Tricycle riders, known as Keke riders, operating within Gwarimpa Housing Estate have accused the leadership of their unions of different kinds of extortion and failure to stand by them in times of need.
However, the branch chairman of the two unions in Gwarimpa, Amalgamated Commercial Tricycle & Motorcycle Owners, Repairs & Riders Association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN) and Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria, (TOA) denied the allegations.
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In an interview with Daily Trust, some of the riders complained that the leadership abandons them even in the case of death, accident or any misfortune that befalls them.
Speaking to our correspondent, Rabiu Mikail, who claimed to have spent more than a decade riding Keke in Abuja said he never defaulted in paying his union due but he was ignored by the union when he had an accident.
“Our plights are numerous, despite being regular in paying the daily ticket revenues, every rider pays almost N250.
“I had some tricycles before, but when I had an accident with them and approached our union, they ignored me; no palliative was given to me.
“It’s sad that if one of us had an accident and called the chairman to his aid; he’d first ask how much you are going to give to him. It’s the same thing when you fall into the police net until you agree to give him incentive from N500-1,000 before he comes to your rescue; while the police would extort you of N4, 000-5000. To me, the union is useless.
“What is the essence of the daily tickets we buy?” he asked.
He said the unions also failed in their responsibilities of conveying dead members to their hometowns, leaving it for the family of the deceased to bear the brunt, “as many riders pass on here in Abuja”.
Another rider, Hassan Usman told Aso Chronicle that, even though he never fails to buy the daily ticket, at no time does the union support him when in crises.
“I had an accident with a cyclist and he took me to the police where I was demanded to settle the bills of his treatment and the motorcycle repair. It amounted to N80,000 but the union refused to assist me. I’d to bail out myself when I realised that the union was indifferent. I’m still settling the money in installments. Honestly, these unions are irrelevant” he said.
He also said there is a lack of transparency and accountability in managing the revenue accrued by the union, ‘’Nobody knows what the union is doing with the revenue we pay to them daily. Whether they save or spend it?”
Muhammadu Lawan, is another rider in Gwarimpa who also substantiated the allegations, though he praised the erstwhile leadership for being sympathetic and responsive to riders.
“The most annoying thing is when we’re having issues with the police; it’s our own leadership that can confiscate your keys and hand them over to the security operatives. We suspect that all sort of humiliation meted against us is orchestrated by the very leadership of Keke riders. What the hell,” he added.
In a chat with Aso Chronicle, the Chairman of Amalgamated Commercial Tricycle & Motorcycle Owners, Repairs & Riders Association of Nigeria, Gwarimpa branch, Abubakar Dahiru Garus refuted the allegations describing some as fictitious and some genuine.
“It’s mandated on us to intervene whenever our member is in trouble either with the police or accident.
“I’ve recorded that anytime a member had an accident, I would be at the hospital and give him the necessary support needed.
“Even today, I was at the police station to settle a dispute of a member that was arrested and I did it free of charge. And some members are defaulters of buying daily tickets, but even at that, we do help them but not as much as we did to those members that are up-to-date in contributing to the union” he said.
He added that sometimes his members violate traffic rules and go out of the boundaries; hence the union could be helpless in such situations.
“It is illegal for tricycle rider to crossover to the expressway, the VIOs warned over that but, some of them will just violate the rule. You don’t expect us to intervene in this situation because what they did is illegal and we are law abiding leaders” he said.
On his part, Chairman Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria, (TOA) Gwarimpa chapter, Mukhtari Hamza Funtua, said they never failed to intervene in cases that involved their genuine members.
“When we find out that you are a registered member and in need of assistance then the union won’t hesitate to render its support free of charge,” he said.
Aso Chronicle reports that they’re no fewer than 4, 000 tricycle riders operating in Gwarimpa Estate.