by crossriverwatch admin
Short of an outright ban which was being anticipated, the Cross River State government on Monday, March 11, placed severe restrictions on the movement of tricycles popularly called “Keke-NAPEP” to the back streets of Calabar South Local Government Council.
Mr Edem Ekong, the Director General of the Department of Public Transportation (DOPT) said The restriction is occasioned by the disorderly attitude and reckless driving of most of the Keke operators.
Addressing the operators Monday at Fenton Street, their secretariat, Mr. Edem Ekong listed the streets and alleys they can operate to include Anantigha, Mbukpa, Iman, Nyahasang, Ikotenim, Edim Otop and Ikot Ekpo Areas.
He told crossriverwatch in an interview that the restriction became necessary because “ Keke is not a vehicle of choice for movement because it is risky and unstable and should therefore stay away from the central business district; they should operate in small streets where they can take people to spots they can take taxis and buses to their destinations”.
He said the number of tricycles operating in the city has increased in the last two years beyond the expectation of government and this was resulting in unnecessary traffic hold up in the state capital.
“The tricycles have almost wiped out taxis and buses. From three hundred they have risen to three thousand in a short time. If you go to Ekpo Abasi now you cannot find buses plying because their operators have parked them since most people would not want to wait for a bus that takes ten passengers to get filled, but jump into a keke that takes just three people and it is off”
He said the town is segmented into areas where the tricycles can operate and areas where taxis can ply and where buses can operate to ease traffic congestion. “We have a relay system where one vehicle can stop and the other takes over and we have to maintain this relay system so that everybody can equally get a piece of the action”.
Edem Ekong waved aside suggestions that restricting the operations of the tricycles to back streets outside areas where they consider “juicy”, would leave some operators idle and thus susceptible to crime, asserting that “the same argument was advanced when Okada was banned, that the ban would make the boys to go and steal but on the contrary, the crime wave went down and it cannot be any different now”.
In his reaction, the chairman of the Keke Riders Association, Etiyin Ekpenyong Ewa Effiom said they had to appeal to government not to ban their operations outright but to allow them to operate in certain areas which the government has agreed. “We have been asked to pay 5,000 Naira for registration and how can we raise such money if we are not given routes to operate”
He said nothing can be achieved through violence and as such the union had to negotiate with the government to allow them to operate. “They have agreed to extend our route from Cross River University of Technology to Edibedibe down to the Beach Market without getting to Lagos Street or Egerton and we are okay with that for now”
Etiyin Effiom said they have agreed to be orderly and to keep off areas they are excluded from “I cannot lie to you because some of our boys are rough. Streets like White House are narrow yet our boys pack along the road and they over take both right and left which is bad”
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