By Caleb Ayansina & Funmi Olasupo
Tuesday, March 18 is not a day some operators of tricycles, popularly called ‘KEKE NAPEP’, in the heart of the Federal Capital Territory would want to come back.
The day began like any other day at Durumi II in Durumi District of the FCT, and business was going on smoothly for the operators. Some of them, who started operation early, had been counting their gains before the atmosphere was interrupted by the noise of shots fired sporadically into the air by security men.
Residents, traders, passersby and passengers scampered for safety, while ‘Keke operators’ abandoned their tricycles and ran for their lives.
By the time the dust raised by the stampede settled, Sunday Vanguard gathered that most of the ‘Keke’ on sight had been vandalized.
Some security officers were said to have used knife to slice the tyres of the tricycles while their windscreens were smashed.
One of the executives of the Motorcycles and Tricycles Operators Association of Nigeria (MOTOAN), Comrade David Akpan, who reportedly approached the security men to find out why they were destroying their machines, was said to have been rough handled and taken away in a Black Maria.
Last year, the FCT Administration had announced the restriction of the tricycles, popularly known as Keke NAPEP, operation to Gwarinpa, Life Camp and Kado Estates including all large settlements and estates.
In Durumi II, two unions operate in the park mostly occupied by Keke NAPEP. They are the National Union of Road Transport Workers (Tricycles), FCT Council and MOTOAN. It is one of the areas reportedly given to Keke NAPEP to ply.
The Deputy Chairman of NURTW (Tricycle), FCT Council, Comrade Thomas Danjuman, told Sunday Vanguard that they had been told to restrict their operation to the area alloted to them by government, but some of the areas were not clearly spelt out.
“We only know Wuse, Area 1 but other areas are not well spelt out. Besides, Durumi is one of the areas alloted to us to be plying,” he said.
Narrating his ordeal, Danjuma said, “We were in our office when we heard gun shots. When we came out, we met the security agents cutting the tyres of our members tricycles and my vice, David, asked them what the problem was. The men started beating him, dragging him with his dress and asking him to come and ask the minister that question.
“Is Keke NAPEP Boko Haram? If they don’t want us, let them call us to a round table and tell us what to do. They say we should not ply restricted areas. Now, the area they asked us to ply, Okada people are there, and we cannot compete with them”.
The Chairman of MOTOAN, Comrade Innocent Matthew, said most of the areas alloted to them by government to ply were not motorable, adding that it would be okay if government could repair the roads.