Tricycles, since being introduced as a mode of transportation, are growing in appeal and popularity. This is especially so among women. Some of them attribute their patronage to accessibility, availability and affordability. A self-professed regular patron, Balkisu Mohammed, said she prefers Keke NAPEP – as it is nicknamed – for those reasons, including safety.
The use of tricycles emerged when the state’s governor, Alhjai Aliyu Wamakko, introduced the business as part of its youth empowerment programme, during which it gave out about 150 tricycles to beneficiaries to alleviate poverty and become self-reliant.
Though the mainstream use of tricycles in Sokoto is heading for its eighth year now, the relatively young mode of transport competes favourably with the motorcycle, which is decades old.
The operators confirmed that most of those who patronize the tricycles are women of various ages. Also, married women prefer them to motorbikes, popularly called ‘Achaba’ or ‘Okada’, which are deemed risky and uncomfortable. Hadiza Ahmed, a housewife, told Weekly Trust that as a married woman, the mode of transport fits her needs of safety, privacy and efficiency.
The operators charge N50, N70 or N100 depending on the distance to be covered, and at the end of the day they realize between N2,000 to N2,500. Women, a driver said, find the fares affordable and hardly ever complain. “The tricycle is my best friend,” said Maimunat Idris, a nurse who is also married. “They’re reliable and safe,” she added, smiling when asked if the fares were cheap. “Of course,” she replied.
In Sokoto many tricycle operators work under the Wazobia Tricycle and Wheels Riders Operators Association, which is a national body with branches across the 36 states of Nigeria. They started with 45 members in Sokoto, who are the beneficiaries of the government poverty alleviation programme but have since grown.
Financial Secretary of the association, Alhaji Sa’adu Babangida Assada, said they have over 2,000 registered members at the moment. Another 700 are registered, waiting for their own tricycles.
To check accidents on the roads, the operators have rules and regulations guiding their members. The association ensures that none of their members smoke while driving, no phone calls, route violation or offensive use of radios while on the road.
The Financial Secretary of the association appealed to the state government to donate more tricycles for their members who are looking for a legitimate source of livelihood and he called for private partnership from the well-to-do in the society, especially women.