By: Ajadi Sodiq
In the context of the University of Ibadan, the transportation system is a pivotal aspect of students’ daily lives, facilitating seamless movement across the campus. While the system brings about ease in students’ mobility, the prevalent issue of selecting transporters — specifically, whether to opt for cab drivers or Keke drivers — has emerged as a significant concern with tangible repercussions for the student body.
The crux of the matter lies in the dilemma faced by students when deciding between cab drivers and Keke drivers for their commute to classes. Unlike cab drivers restricted to picking students exclusively from bus stops, Keke drivers enjoy the flexibility to pick up passengers from any location on campus. This has led to an ongoing struggle for supremacy between the two factions.
Listening to the students’ part of the story, Abdulrasak, a second year student of Pharmacy, narrated how he rushed out of his hostel after he had already missed 30 mins out of a 2-hour pharmacology class and had hoped to avoid missing any further.
After contemplating his choice of transport, Rasak chose to take Keke which he claimed would be okay for him as he had already missed 30 mins out of the time in class. Not quite long after Rasak sat in the Keke, a man came to ask all the passengers to come down. The pharmacy student and others on board were in shock. The interloper was a cab driver who felt it wasn’t right for the tricyclist to pick up their supposed passengers. For Rasak, it meant that pharmacology would wait a while longer as he ended up walking to class.
Transportation can also be a potential obstacle for students in attending school, highlighting the need to address transportation challenges. Overall, transportation plays a significant role in students’ lives and has implications for their well-being, academic success, and access to opportunities. The case isn’t the only one in this scenario as clashes between these factions has been something inevitable on the campus of the University of Ibadan.
Cab drivers speak
In every story, there are always two sides trying to pitch their stance and this time around, the Keke and Cab drivers aren’t left out as they both said they have reasons for their actions. They also argued that nothing can be done arbitrarily as the environment they work in is ringfenced by a lot of rules from the school management.
Both means of transportation are vested with the same responsibility: taking students to class. and making movement easy on campus. However, their modes of operations differ, cabs dealing primarily with bus stops and tricycles with a variety of spots.
According to Mr. Segun, one of the cab drivers whose bus stop is opposite Zik Hall, the bulk of students prefer Keke to Cab. Mr. Segun explained that many of the students had that choice because they understood that Keke picked fewer passengers and also could pick from anywhere.
“These students chose Keke over cab because they pick just three passengers and have many shortcuts on campus, compared to cab which basically deals with bus stops.”
Also, Mr. Joshua revealed it’s always a sad thing to them when they know they’ll have to share their passengers with others. This is related to their income which, like every other transportation workers they’ll deliver at the end of the day, most having procured the cabs on instalmental payment agreements.
“Some of us here would only go to and fro three times a day and that’s just 2,400 naira which can’t even cover half of our delivery payment, but what can we do? Nothing, because the management chose to do it that way. We can’t pick students from anywhere unlike Keke.” He lamented.
As for Mr. Daniel, one of the Keke drivers on campus revealed they work based on the direction of the School Management and the Transportation Department of the University.
“We don’t do those things deliberately, we work based on the direction of the school management; if it’s not accepted by the school, the transportation department would have stopped us from picking people from anywhere.”
According to another Keke driver, Mr. Waliu who explained to the correspondent why they have the opportunity to take passengers from anywhere around the campus.
“Ever since the establishment of Keke as a means of transportation, Professor already said Keke can’t wait to queue anywhere but could pick passengers from anywhere on campus, and this has been the directive since then.” Mr. Waliu revealed.
Also, he explained the Keke drivers’ daily payment to their owners are more than that of the cab, bus, and others including the registration and screening payment for the school management.
“We deliver more than any of them. We deliver 5,000 naira everyday which any of them (other means of transportation) couldn’t do, plus the money we pay for registration is higher than theirs.” He revealed.
“We pay 35,500 for our Keke registration while they pay 25 thousand plus.” He added.
He further explained that the Keke and the cab drivers have already agreed to make it a one after the other thing — which meant that a cab then a tricycle would pick passengers — but the cab drivers continue breaching the agreement as they most time argue that they’ve been on the queue for long so they can’t allow the Keke to take their passengers. Also, they revealed their charges for drop is higher than theirs which goes as 400 for Keke and 500 for Cab.
Transportation is important to students because it impacts their social, psychological, and academic experiences. It influences their ability to access educational opportunities, such as after-school activities and attending non-local schools. Access to safe, affordable, and convenient transportation shapes the “geography of opportunity” for students, affecting their decisions on school attendance, extracurricular activities, and work-based learning opportunities. Understanding students’ travel behavior is crucial for planners and policymakers to shift towards more sustainable transportation modes.
Lateness and excuse to skip classes
This is one of the reasons which students leverage on to excuse some classes and stay back in their hostel. Students may face delays in reaching classes, exams, or other commitments, impacting their punctuality and potentially affecting academic performance.
From Tolu, a Zikite’s perspective, cab drivers and their need for additional passengers was enough reason for him to return to his hostel.
“Sometimes, I consider using school transportation to get to class, especially when there’s no Keke available, and I’m aware I’m running late. Despite wanting to take a taxi for attendance purposes and other reasons, drivers insist I pay for a drop as their usual route doesn’t go to my class location. This discussion alone takes about 10 more minutes. In the end, I often decide to head back to my room, missing that class altogether.”
Stress, anxiety and security
For someone like Anne, a second-year student of the Department of Political Science who was already averse to trekking long distances, the preference is to take a cab from the main gate to Idia Hall. In reverse, tricycles are a better option from her hall or anywhere else on campus. In instances where there are no tricycles and paying a single-person ride in a cab is the alternative, Anne concedes to the demanding exercise of walking.
A student who doesn’t want her name to be displayed explained to this correspondent how she has developed anxiety ever she heard about robbery in Queen Elizabeth II Hall and also the kidnap attempt she claimed she heard about.
She revealed from then she began to take transport anywhere she’s going on campus without anyone being with her.
“Before I used to walk down to the gate even in the evening but ever since I heard about a kidnap attempt and also a robbery case around Queens, I either take a cab or Keke but sometimes when Keke isn’t available and the cab drivers would only have to wait for 3 more people which sometimes do take a lot of time, I’d just call my male friends to go with me and if there’s no one available, I’ll go back to my hostel.”
Trekking as an alternative
Kelvin, a student of Animal Science recalls choosing to pay a high cab fare to avoid missing an important class. The scarcity of tricycles at the time forced him to bear the cost of a lone ride.
He lamented how he’d have missed the class if he didn’t have enough money on him that day. Unlike Kelvin who would rather pay for drop at times like that, however, Taofeek rejected the option because he felt he couldn’t pay the exorbitant sum of 400 naira for just himself when he would still need a meal after class.
Speaking on Taofeek’s preferences, he considered the hike in everything both on campus and outside which he lamented that he’d have to spend based on what he’s capable of and won’t regret. According to Taofeek, he revealed that ever since he resumed this semester everything has skyrocketed and has affected his savings. He explained how the amount he spent on food has changed and has made him prefer his legs to other means of transportation.
“As at last semester, I used to believe I can’t stress myself so I’ll take Keke or Cab to far places on campus but ever since this semester began I can’t. This is due to a hike in the price of things and even if I opt to take transport I can’t try cab because I’ll have to wait for more people to enter plus sometimes there will be no passenger available which I’ll be forced to take drop but not this period. I can’t do that again, I’d rather walk the talk.” He lamented.
However, the ongoing discord between cab and Keke drivers at the University of Ibadan raises pertinent questions about the fairness of transportation regulations and their impact on both students and drivers. Finding a harmonious solution that balances the interests of all parties involved remains a challenge within the confines of the existing management guidelines.
The complex interplay of these dynamics underscores the need for a comprehensive review of the transportation system, ensuring the smooth and equitable movement of students across the University of Ibadan campus.