In India, tricycles play some key roles in transportation of people and goods. In fact, that is the country where they are manufactured. But in what could be termed ‘borrowed idea,’ a former military governor of Lagos State, Mohammed Marwa, who was then a colonel, introduced the three-legged machine to compliment the transportation system.
Being the pioneer and the initiator of the new form of transportation, Lagosians named the tricycle after him.
Before his assumption of office as the administrator, Nigerians were not used to tricycles. The closest avenue some of them might have come across it was probably in Indian movies. But having studied the transportation bedlam in the ‘Centre of Excellence’, Marwa, who retired as a Brigadier-General, decided to do something about it.
It was a revolution that was not known even outside the state. Patiently, people waited and watched to see if the programme would succeed. A lot of sensitisation was done and Lagosians embraced it. Today, Keke Marwa is a popular means of transportation in the state.
That revolution is fast spreading like the proverbial harmattan bush fire. In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, its residents are now getting familiar with tricycles. But unlike in Lagos, it is known as Keke NAPEP here. NAPEP, which stands for the National Poverty Eradication Programme, was introduced by the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was aimed at providing jobs for the teeming jobless youths roaming the streets of the country in search of white-collar jobs.
Then that objective was not met as residents shunned the tricycles and opted for motorcycles. The reason for this was simple. It was cheaper to purchase the latter.
Mr. Mohammed Isa, a mechanic in Kurudu, one of the satellite towns in the city, says the desire of most of the youths to use motorcycles instead of the tricycles was responsible.
He said, “Purchasing a motorcycle is cheaper than buying a tricycle. While a standard motorcycle costs about N80,000, you may need up to N250,000 to get the tricycle. Also, except there is rain, most commuters prefer motorcycles because they are fast and have the ability to manoeuvre their ways even in a very serious traffic.
“Moreover, they would take you to your doorsteps unlike the tricycles that would only stop you on the road, just like the normal taxis or (Araba) commercial buses.”
What Isa did not add is the incessant accidents that are associated with motorcycles. Not only that. A majority of the motorcycles on Abuja roads are not registered while the cyclists are not trained.
These might have prompted the former minister in charge of the territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, to wield the sledge hammer by banning them from the metropolis.