By: Moses Adeosun and Oyindamola Akindele
“School is stressful, but I must confess that going to CMF Hostel after a stressful day is just the right dose to turn a stressful day into a frustrating one. Drivers zoom off at the mention of my hostel. CMF has become one of the most dreadful names for UI cabmen and tricyclists. Even when my friends and I try the drivers with the sweet option of drop, they shun us for those going to the gate. Some say it’s too far, others say they can’t climb the hill that connects gently to where I lay my heads. Well, it is somehow easy from the school gate, you can get drop at 150 naira, that is 150% of the actual price, and if you board with someone going the same way, you can share with the person, still having to pay about 100 naira.”
The lamentations above aptly capture the ordeals of Aishat, a 400-level student who resides in CMF Hostel. And by extension, it captures the ordeals of the average Awoite, CMFite, AOOite, and vet student – University of Ibadan students whose residence or faculty are farther than that of the average UIte. Aisha’s lamentations are the same hymn in the mouth of every student resident in Awolowo Hall, CMF Hostel and students of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, perhaps exempting those who have their cars to cruise. Students who fall in the above-named categories face the challenges of getting transportation to their hostels and faculty.
Although the University of Ibadan Students’ Union made a special release on the fixed prices of commodities and transportation on the 27th of June, 2021, there are still some cases of transporters carging exorbitant fees. According to the release, the maximum price fixed for all tricycles was 50 naira per passenger for two passengers, 100 naira for drop, and 30 naira per passenger for three passengers. Cabmen were mandated to collect 150 naira for drop, 50 naira per passenger for 3 passengers, and 30 naira per passenger for 4 passengers. The case of whether this has been truly adhered to or not is a story for another day. The focus of this arrticle is on how cabmen and tricyclists blatantly refuse to go to places like Awo, CMF and Vet or charge more than the required price for those places citing distance as an excuse.
What the Affected UItes Have to Say about the Issue
The transportation issue on the University of Ibadan campus is one that has got a lot of students lamenting. From our interviews with students to know how this affects them and their activities on campus, we discovered that there are gross financial effects on the budgeted allowance of many students, who have to spend more than is required. Money that could have been spent on feeding and textbooks is spent on transportation.
Egbuenike Benedicta, a 200-level student at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine who stays off-campus said that despite all the sacrifices of waking up early to get to class on-time, she still gets to class late, and the lecturers lock her outside the class sometimes. She suggested that the Students’ Union should put more stringent measures in place to curb this act of injustice by cabmen and tricyclists on campus. Another student, by the name Shawwai Jemima, suggested that bus stops should be placed at strategic positions and more evenly distributed as students often have to trek to the gate from their hostels and classes before they can get a cab to their destination. Hepzibah, a resident in St. Anne’s Hostel, also complained that the cabs aren’t even readily available even when students are willing to pay extra. She further spoke of how she sometimes has to stay for about 40 minutes looking for a cab in front of St. Anne’s Hostel.
The University’s Association of Cabmen Weighs In on the Issue
Weighing in on the allegations levied against cabmen and tricyclists on campus, the Vice Chairmen of the Association of Cabmen complained that change is the issue causing the hike in price. He said that some people give as big as 1000 or 500 naira to the drivers early in the morning, expecting them to have change. He said that there wouldn’t be any problem if they had come with 50 naira, since the route is one they often ply. He quotedly said, “it is our place we are supposed to carry, not like we do not want to, but change is the problem.I believe getting change is a general issue on campus and should not be tagged with Awo residents only. Obafemi Awolowo Hall is the largest undergraduate hall in the university and has over 2, 000 residents who cannot all not have 50 naira for keke and cab.” Another suggested that if they are allowed to take three passengers instead of two to places like Awo Hall, then, the issue will be solved. He related this to the fact that they have a delivery fee of 4, 000 naira, which they must meet. “Our delivery here is 4, 000 naira, that is where we have challenges, so it is not easy for us to deliver 4000 naira, pay for fuel at a very high cost, and climb hills with our cabs or tricycles, which often leads to more fuel consumption. That is the reason our people reject Vet and Awo.”
Based on revelations gotten from some cabmen, it was necessary to speak to the University’s committee in charge of transportation on campus; the Intra-Campus Transportation Committee, to hear their take on the transportation issue. However, an interview with the Intra-Campus Transport Committee proved abortive, as the CSS refused to grant us an interview, stating a busy schedule as an excuse.
A careful look at the cabmen’s side of the story will prove the following:
- that the injustices meted out to Awoites, CMFites, AOOites, and vet students is due to circumstances seemingly beyond the control of cabmen, given the need for them to deliver an average 16, 000 naira monthly.
- the bulk of this issue can be resolved by the Intra-Campus Transportation Committee. This committee needs to look into the provision of more cabs and tricycles on campus, the creation of bus-stops at strategic places such as Awo Hall, St. Anne’s and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (just as there is a bus-stop at the Postgraduate School), a slight reduction in the cabmen’s weekly delivery fee, but to mention a few.
- that the Students’ Union needs to rise to the task and find a mutual ground that will be to the benefit of both the transporters and the transported. The arrangement of four persons per cab could be considered (as it is currently being practised by a few cabmen), a review of the fixed prices of transportation to accommodate the nuances revealed in this article is also needed. Furthermore, the Union, armed with the complaints and plights of students, needs to hold a meeting with the Association of Cabmen and Tricyclists to find the best way forward.
This is not the first time that the student body would be experiencing transportation issues, and it is on record that some transportation issues have been resolved (one of which is the creation and recognition of Indy Hall bus stop). While it is true that this problem is as old as the history of transportation in the University of Ibadan, it should not deter us from finding a lasting solution to it.
There comes a time, when people come to realize that they have had enough of an issue. With such revelation comes a burning desire to strive and ensure that things get better. We sincerely hope such burning desire consumes the Students’ Union, well enough to push for the needed change and fight the cause of suffering students.