Ibadan is a geographical boundary located at the heart of Oyo State, which is also referred to as the Pacesetter State. It is the third largest metropolitan area by population in Nigeria, after Lagos and Kano, with a population of over three million. Unfortunately, the city suffers from a syndrome I will refer to as Micranosomiasis. Ibadan is a city where the challenges caused partly, or wholly by Micra cabs, which are used for commercial transportation, are unquantifiable.
This syndrome comprises of issues such as the non-challant attitude of the drivers, the question of comfortability of the cabs, delayed ticketing, road congestion, and kidnapping.
First, is the attitude of Micra cab drivers, who definitely need psychological examinations; their attitude towards driving is out-of-this world, as they drive with reckless abandon.
These drivers do go scot-free when they do not fulfill the necessary requirements of being drivers, and if caught, they know how to bribe their way out in such cases, and on some occasions, they just flee. They even have ways of calling the attention of their members when law enforcement agencies are operating on various routes.
Fleeing is an expensive option chosen by these drivers, as third parties suffer the consequences. I witnessed a scenario whereby an official of the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) stopped a Micra cab along Iwo Road Expressway to examine its papers. Since the driver knew it would be such an expensive stop since he didn’t have the required papers, he opted to flee; unfortunately, a commercial motorcyclist was obscuring his escape route, but he decided to knock him down so he could have his way. The motorcyclist died on the spot, while the VIO officials immediately left the scene. This is just one of the several accidents Micra cab drivers have caused in the city.
Also, considering the size of these cabs, they are less comfortable. A commentator, in her article, rightly described them as matchboxes. In the ‘three-at-the-back’ and ‘two-in-front’ cabs, passengers are like fishes in sandwiches.
Ibadan is also full of several cab ticketing agents. Most times, drivers have to pay for different tickets at different bus-stops all through the day, and when cab drivers sight these agents, who work for the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), they try all the tricks available to them not to pay, and the agents, as a result, also delay them. The meaning of this is that passengers can stay for several minutes at the same spot while the drivers and ticketing agents ‘slug’ it out.
Of utmost concern, Micra cabs are the major cause of congestion in Ibadan. As a matter of fact, places such as Challenge, Dugbe, Mokola, Sango, UI, Ojoo, Molete, Iwo Road, among others, are known to be the major areas that link several roads. Regrettably, the congestions being experienced by these road networks are majorly caused by Micra cabs. The reason is that Micra cabs stop at each bus stop illegally, in search of passengers. Since they pay for tickets at almost all bus-stops, most drivers make sure that they wait to have full load of passengers, not minding the obstruction they cause.
Now, the most alarming is that several kidnapping/ritual dens have been discovered in the city, and there have been stories by survivors who claimed they were hypnotised while aboard Micra cabs.
Having said all these, it is not in doubt that Micra cabs constitute a nuisance to the city of Ibadan, but since it is being used for transportation, all effort must be made by the government and the NURTW to curb the activities of the drivers.
The police also have a lot to do in this area, particularly in arresting cab drivers who drive recklessly on the road, or park indiscriminately. There is also the need for proper sensitisation of the drivers by officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), as these drivers just squeeze their cabs in the smallest available spaces whenever there are traffic hold-ups, and this, most times, result in crashes with other vehicles.
- Adewusi, a socio-political researcher, lives in Ibadan.