By Ajadi Sodiq
Around 5:30 pm, *Mr. Ikene, one of the tricycles shuttle drivers at the University of Ibadan, had just returned from a family gathering when he encountered more than seven other tricycles on the line. Mr. Ikene hasn’t had a passenger in his tricycle for almost thirty minutes since he arrived. This caused him to rest his head on the wheel, as he narrated to this Indy Press correspondent. “The students preferred to walk to their destination rather than take shuttles. These days because of the increase in the sun, there’s more patronage,” Mr. Ikene explained to this reporter.
Mr. Ikene’s business still doesn’t foot his bill, but he prefers not to sit at home as he shared with this reporter how he got his degree from the same University some years back — from the department of Botany — using employment and raising capital as barriers and reasons for his involvement in the tricycle driving in the same University community he graduated from. According to him, “I would have loved to do better jobs than this, but since I’ve been using a motorcycle to work in the school before I graduated and after I couldn’t find work out there, I came back to start driving tricycle,”
He further explained the challenges most of them faced in driving tricycles on campus. He also lamented how they have been subjected to the instructions of the owner of the tricycles. It’s important to note that a majority of tricycles are on hire purchase. This is a major business for some lecturers on campus as they get to purchase these tricycles, find riders for them and work on a delivery-based system weekly.
“As for some of us driving tricycles on campus, our challenge is usually the instruction from some of the owners of our tricycles, it’s always either you listen to what they want or they collect the tricycle from you anytime and you know there’s no work out there?” He stated further as he explains how he hardly takes the money home to his family because he had to pay his employer even if the day sales are poor.
One out of Many
Mr. Ikene is just one out of many transporters on campus. As for Mr. Moshud Idowu, popularly known as Alhaji at the park. He mirrored his experiences during the strike. Despite his 13 years of experience as a cab driver on campus, he explained how the just concluded protracted strike has been the hardest time he’ll face in his life as a driver on the University campus.
“I just purchased this my car in January this year, during the strike there was no work, at a point I considered selling it because despite the strike the management still collect screening fee from us which we usually renew every six months and every part of the car are now expensive in ten-fold,” he lamented.
“Sometimes, I don’t take up to two thousand Naira home, because all I make that day might be just that and I’ll have to buy fuel for my car” He added.
Sympathy Clash with Business
After getting to hear the experiences of workers — which were mainly sad tales — coupled with family responsibilities, daily feeding, including payments of children’s school fees; a majority of these workers sought an increase in the amount charged for transportation concerning low patronage of students during the strike.
Mr. Hassan Modasiru, 50, showed sympathy towards the suggestion for an increase in transportation fees concerning their current realities.
“I don’t like if the price increase, because I also have children in different institutions, and if they increase it here they’ll also increase my children’s own too, and I’m the one to bear the brunt” Mr. Hassan pleaded.
This sympathy not only applies to Mr. Hassan but also to Mr. Moshud. He expressed his feeling towards not wanting the transport management to increase or impose anything on the students concerning transportation after the strike. But rather than the management reducing the screening fee they impose on them, the workers. “We don’t have a problem with the students, we have children too and I know how it feels, it’s just the management that needs to be considerate and reduce the screening charge imposed on us” Mr. Moshud added.
Editor’s Note: Some names in this story have been changed to protect the identities of our sources.