Taxi drivers in Ilorin, Kwara State are no longer at ease as residents now embrace the services of tricycle (Keke Marwa) operators.
The drivers previously had a near-monopoly of intra-city transport in the Ilorin metropolis for a very long time, but the advent of the tricycle has changed the narrative.
Findings showed that tricycles have become the main means of commercial transportation in Ilorin because it’s operators ply virtually all routes, including inner streets.
Some residents and stakeholders in the transportation sector who spoke blamed the taxi drivers’ predicament on poor maintenance culture, rascality and high fares.
A taxi driver, Mal. Issa Atanda lamented that the advent of tricycles has affected taxi drivers’ business negatively, resulting to low patronage because people prefer to patronise the tricycle operators.
“This has affected my daily income because the Keke’s fare is cheaper. For instance, some routes that taxi will charge N100, Keke Marwa will charge N70”, he stated.
“I have been a taxi driver for the past 18 years. I have been doing well. Now, Keke Marwa’s challenges have trimmed my source of livelihood drastically,” another taxi driver, Lanre Atotileto lamented.
Atotileto said he used to make up to N6,000 daily before, but now, he makes about N3,500 in a day.
“It’s not about expensive cars, but the good service one can offer.
People complain that we are dirty and that taxis are not safe. But I am not giving up,” he added.
A resident, Baba Musa said that before the tricycle operators commenced business in Ilorin, some taxi drivers had a lackadaisical attitude towards the business.
“They (taxi drivers) leave their cars unkempt and poorly maintained. Above all, some of them lack manners and talk to passengers without decorum. Tricycle operators have come with a difference, and passengers are being treated like kings while they enjoy the comfort they deserve as they take a ride to their destinations,” he said.
The chairman of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the state, Alhaji AbdulRahman Onikijipa said:” Only change is constant; buses and taxis have enjoyed the monopoly before but have to now face the new realities.”
He said that the tricycle operators were members of his union who dropped taxi driving when they felt the business was no longer profitable.
While giving reasons for the preference for tricycle by the operators, Onikijipa listed cost of maintenance, accessibility, as factors responsible for the breakage of the monopoly hitherto enjoyed by the taxi drivers.
Also speaking, the state chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji AbdulKadir Ariwoola, listed low fares, comfort as part of the reasons commuters prefer tricycle to taxi.