Thursday, 16 October 2014

Road Transport System in Kaduna State

Road Transport System in Kaduna State
On May 21, 2014, a law banning the use of motorbikes for commuter service (popularly known as Achaba or Okada) came into force in the Kaduna State. The law affects the three major metropolises in the state namely, Kaduna, Zaria and Kafanchan. In many quarters, it was a welcome development owing to the fact that the Achabas had come to constitute a lot of traffic nuisance, safety challenge and, more especially, a security threat. In some others, however, the news was greeted with a lot of consternation, disaffection and anger. There were also those who saw in the situation an opportunity for political opportunism. No matter how anyone wants to look at it, the truth is that a certain degree of sanity has been brought to the roads in the state. Yet even with that, it is clear that the state is yet to make serious milestones in the areas of road safety and an organized road transport system.
Much as it attempts to look so over the years, Kaduna is a town that has failed to really develop. At best it can be said to be growing but the growth is not accompanied by commensurate development. As a child in the seventies, one remembers that there were taxi cabs that provided real cab services in Kaduna. Of course there were the buses with their designated routes. Cabs anywhere are meant to be flexible depending on the need of the passenger. Therefore one only had to come out to the front of one’s house and flag down a cab and be off to wherever one needed to go. But as time went on with the advent of the eighties, taxis in Kaduna gradually began to operate like the buses that would not move from their park until they were loaded to capacity, if not over – which became normal. These taxis now have specific routes outside which they would never ply and they will drop and pick up passengers at any point on the way. If you attempt to get them to ply outside their routes, then you have to pay for what they call “drop” which is usually outrageously expensive.
It is this gap that the achaba riders ably filled. They were able to provide that needed flexibility that taxis abandoned and people never quite felt the pinch. Infact many people in Kaduna do not even know how taxi cabs are supposed to operate because they have never quite seen them operate ideally. True, the achaba became quite an ordeal and a major security challenge and had to be done away with and the state did the right thing. Tricycles have been brought in to supplant the achaba bikes, which is commendable. But clearly, there don’t seem to be modalities in place to regulate the operations of the tricycles. In fact the moment the ban on achaba came into force Kaduna started seeing tricycles from other states, as far as Adamawa state. Not that there is anything wrong with that in itself except that we are again being confronted with the same challenge as with the achaba; people coming in to provide services without due registration and documentation. The expectation is that anybody or tricycle that will offer such services should be duly registered and documented. This will help to manage the security concern. It is hoped that the Kaduna state government is working in this direction.
Then of course is the problem of good transport flexibility. Today in Kaduna, even the tricycles are operating pretty much like the buses. One finds a tricycles running from right inside Kakuri or Nassarawa to town, the city centre. It is doubtful that that is how the government expected or expects them to operate. Of course there is one major reason the readily presents as to why the tricycles will not be able to operate flexibly in the nooks and crannies: it is the fact that roads in Kaduna are not well paved and laid. This would also account for the taxis’ refusal – or is it failure? – to run proper cab services.
It is therefore desirable that the Kaduna state government looks into these issues seriously with a view to addressing them. The first is to get the taxis to offer real cab services and not operate like buses. The second is to restrict the operations of tricycles to areas such that a tricycle operating in one shire should not be seen in another. Also of importance is the need to properly register and document all tricycles providing services in the state with their proper area of operation to further ensure checks.
Finally and most importantly is road infrastructure and network upon which the effective and efficient transport system can operate. Any government that can give this to Kaduna state will very easily write its name in gold in the hearts of the people of the state.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; June 26, 2014

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