Every day, Rabiu (surname withheld) steps into his commercial tricycle (Keke Marwa) to work, he tries to avoid street urchins (agberos) that work as levy collection touts for the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Police, and officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), a deadly trio he described as a threat to their livelihood and prays not to encounter.
Police, LASTMA, Agberos Threatening Our Livelihood – Tricycle Operators Lament
“Speak with any driver around here, they will tell you the same thing, that these agberos, LASTMA and Police are our greatest problems. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid them. The three of them in particular are always devising new ways to steal from us, but these agberos are the worst, they are like cancer to us.
“Every day, I start work by 6 am and most days, it’s like I am working for this set of people. I ply the Cele-Gate-Cele route and we have two chairmen, one at both ends. We pay N800 at Cele and N700 at (Jakande Housing Estate) Gate daily, while on Sunday, we pay N500 at both ends. You cannot say you are not paying the money, else those agberos will remove your seat or even seize your key.
“On the average, we make about N7, 000 daily, sometimes it’s more and other times, it’s less. Of this amount, we pay N1, 500 (chairman’s money), N3000 (delivery money), and N1500 (fuel), amounting to N6000. Sometimes, we are asked to pay the chairman’s feeding or weekend money.
“The remaining amount is spent on feeding and ajo (contribution), which is between N500 and N1000, depending on sales that day.”
“Whenever it rains, work is dull, but they don’t care; you must cough out the money. Also, we pay N100 at every bus stop to the Police morning and afternoon. They don’t collect the money directly; they have ‘boys’ that stand beside them and collect the money.
“You can imagine how many bus stops there are between Cele and Gate and we pay N100 at each major bus stop. Once you pay their money, you won’t have any problem, as they will allow you to work. They do nothing for us; they don’t make our lives easier; all they do is take from us.
“We have no medical insurance, no cover, nothing. Yet, we are the ones funding their lives. That is why we keep passing the cost to the customers, just so we have something to take home every day.”