By Albert Akpor
WHENÂ tricycles, popularly called KekeÂ Marwa were introduced into the city of Lagos by the military administration of Colonel Buba Marwa (rtd) many saw it as the military administratorâ€™s way of placating the masses and mitigating their impoverishment at the time.
This presumably explains why theÂ introduction of the tricycles was widely advertised as a poverty alleviation gesture on the part of government since many jobless youths and other individuals were expected to benefit from it through ownership at subsidised rates.
The laudable undertone of the project as reflected by the enthusiastic way it was embraced by the people obviously promptedÂ the succeeding civilian administration under Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu to adopt it. This it did by importing more of the tricycles and encouraged more people to take to that line of making out a living or self-employment.
But what was then generally accepted as a blessing has over time degenerated into a traffic nightmare for road users in Lagos.
For the most part these days, Keke Marwa operators are seen struggling to outdo the now notorious Okada riders in recklessness on the road in their mad rush to beat the traffic, evenÂ when it is moving smoothly.
Apart from reckless over-speeding, disobeying traffic rules and meandering through every available space between vehicles on snarled- up traffic situations, Keke Marwa, motorists and commuters say poses a great danger to the lives of those boarding it.
Some are wont to say the mistake governments may have made was not to properly designate these tricycles on specific routes like it did for all other means of road transportation in the city.Â Thus, these tricycles have become a menace or terror on all roads, including highways.
Dr. Eugene Onyeka is a motorist and sees the activities of Keke Marwa drivers as urgently deserving of governmentâ€™s attention and sanction.
â€œWhat more can I say than to describe theÂ coming of the so-called tricycles into the city of Lagos as a curse rather than a blessing.Â If you are an observer of the way these tricycles move on our roads,Â you will be compelled as an individual to call for an outright ban of this means of transportation.
â€œThe drivers are too much in a hurry and so fail to exercise caution and obey traffic rules.Â More often than not, they ram into other vehicles in a bid to get to their destination quickly and make a brisk turn back. As far as I am concerned, Keke Marwa is no less a moving casket.Â It is not balanced,Â and a heavy wind could sweep it off the ground.
â€œThe other day, one of them was swept off the road by a fast moving trailer along Olorunshogo Road, Mushin while attempting to dash across the road;Â and it was said that all the four passengers, including the driver, sustained serious injuries.Â Again, have you paused to find out the calibre of persons driving the tricycles?
â€œThey are worse than the popular Okada riders.Â Incidentally, I prefer to ride on an Okada than risk my life in a cut- and- nail like coffin called Keke Marwa.Â So, if I have the opportunity to place an outright ban on their operation in Lagos state, I wonâ€™t hesitate to do just that.â€
Another respondent who simply identified himself as Wasiu is not only pained by theÂ reckless manoeuvres of the tricycles on Lagos roads, he is angry that such means of transportation is allowed in a mega city like Lagos.
According to the business man: â€œThe tricycles are manufactured in India where they are only used to carry light loads, like maize and other farm produce and not human beings.Â And even when they are used for human transportation, they are driven on foot paths not on expressways like we have in Nigeria.Â Itâ€™s simply incredible to see tricycles on Lagos roads.
â€œThe developmental efforts of Governor Fashola is highly commendable but I think he should focus more on transportation and in doing that, vehicles like Keke Marwa or whatever name they come and of course,Â Molue should be removed completely from the roads.
â€œGo to other cities like Port Harcourt and Asaba, for instance, you cannot see anything near Molue or the Keke Marwa on their roadsâ€.
Lagos celebrates tree planting day, to plant 5,000 trees
July 14 every year has been set aside by the Lagos State Government as tree planting day. The tree planting campaign in the state commenced last year with Governor Babatunde Fashola flagging it off. In marking this day, several activities have been lined up to ensure a successful campaign.
According to Dr. Muiz Banire, the State Commissioner for Environment, who addressed journalists on this yearâ€™s edition of tree planting at the weekend, part of the activities for the day is the selection of plants to be planted, pointing out that in addition to Terminalia montalis otherwise called Teak, Polyalthia longifolia or Eucalyptus planted last year, â€œwe have selected 10 other species namely Pinus Carribea, Casuarina, Lagostromia, Yellow Phycus, Lypia, Neem, Terbeboa, Delonix, Flame of the Forest and Palmâ€.
The Commissioner who said the plants were carefully selected to suit the soil texture, the underground facilities and other infrastructure around where they will be planted in order to ensure their survival and avoid damage to other facilities, added that like the state did last year, the government has decentralised the campaign and various government leaders and dignitaries will lead the campaign in different places.
â€œHis Excellency, the Governor shall lead the campaign at Mobil Road, Ajegunle; Her Excellency, the Deputy Governor will be at Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, Victoria Island; Her Excellency, the First Lady will lead at Oworonsoki – Oshodi Road, Gbagada while the Rt. Hon. Speaker of the House of Assembly will lead the campaign at Oba Ogunji Road, Agege and the Deputy Speaker will be at the University of Lagos, amongst others.
â€œApart from this, Federal legislators from Lagos State, members of the House of Assembly and Executive Council members will be leading or participating in the campaign in various parts of the state.
The chairmen of all the local governments and local council development areas, Obas, chiefs, community leaders, environment ambassadors, non governmental organisations, Friends of the Environment, educational institutions (tertiary, secondary and primary) Military, Police, Customs, Immigration and Prison formations have been mobilised to be part of the exercise which I am positive will be a grand success,â€Â Banire said.