By Abdulmumin Giwa, Kano
MILLIONS of naira have been lost to the strike action embarked upon by commercial tricycle riders in Kano State who are protesting excessive extortion by the Kano State Roads Transport Agency, KAROTA.
Their seven-day warning strike started on Monday and it was not without financial losses and threat to security. The strike action began as a protest against the KAROTA insistence that commercial tricyclists renewed their registration at the rate of N8,000 for those already registered and N18,000 for new registrants. This is in addition to their daily taxes of N120.
The presence of the commercial tricycles in Kano not only benefit commuters, especially as the once popular Okada has since been banned due to insecurity, it also generates a lot of revenue and provides access to income for many citizens. Already, many small and even big businesses have closed down due to inability to move about or access business places by workers. The mini-trucks used mainly for transporting goods from market to market or to other places were turned into passenger conveyance vehicles as they were made to carry 20 people on the truck with everyone paying N200, depending on the distance.
There is the issue of the return of Okada which is a considered a security threat. In most part of the North, including Kano, motorcycles have been banned due to the fear of Boko Haram and bandits. The return of Okada as a result of the strike action has become a source of concern since it is perceived as a real threat to the peace being enjoyed in the state. KAROTA said that 75,000 tricycles were operating in the state. So, with a daily tax of N120 paid by the operators, this translates to a daily collection of N9 million everyday and N63 million for the week’s warning strike.
In addition to this, the commercial tricycle operators purchase an average of N1000 worth of fuel daily, making a total of N75 million daily and a total of N535 million for the week-long warning strike. With the Kano State government refusing to back down, work places, schools and even hospitals are now operating skeletal services. Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hamisu Ibrahim Chidari, has, however, promised to intervene on the matter.
“We are going to intervene on the matter because it is affecting the populace, businesses and schools. We will try and see that the problems are resolved and everything turns back to normal,” the speaker said.
Managing Director of KAROTA, Bappa Babba Danagundi, has also hinted that the state government was planning to create a new transport system that will oust the commercial tricycles operators. He said: “Government will unveil the new transport system because we want to check the monopoly in the transportation system, as is the case now. Arrangements have already reached advanced stage to provide residents with a means of transportation.”
“The tricycle operators went on strike because of the introduction of the operational permit. The state government has reduced the cost from N100,000 to N8,000, to enable them pay. Even though some of them have paid, others do not want to pay government revenue and the law says they should pay. They don’t want to respect the law, they think the security they are getting is for nothing. I don’t have any authority to say they must resume work. However, they do not have any authority to tell me not to ask for their particulars and not to arrest them and take appropriate action against them.”
Meanwhile, the state government is yet to issue any statement on the matter.