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Posted by on Sunday October 30, 2016 at 14:49:13:

There is something that Nigerians call Keke Napep and it refers to the motorized three wheeler vehicle that is commonly used for public transportation in many states of the country. In India, it is called an Auto rickshaw but in Nigeria, it's a Keke Napep.

It is one of the last type of vehicles introduced into Nigeria's transportation sector as at 2016. In the densely populated state of Lagos, it's commonly called Keke Marwa or Keke Maruwa because the Keke Napep was introduced into the state during the military administration of Lagos state under Mohammed Buba Marwa.

Keke Napep has been embraced by many Nigerians who have long yearned for an alternative means of transportation besides the buses and motorcycles and it's because it comes with a lot of advantages.

One of the benefits which passengers gain from taking a Keke Napep or Keke Marwa is the fact that is has a faster loading time. While buses tend to take more time to load since they require more passengers, Kekes take less time since it requires a total of 4 passengers which includes the driver.

The second advantage which taking a Keke Napep offers to passengers is the fact that it's safer than taking an Okada(commercial motorcycle) or a bus in some cases. This is because accidents rarely happen to Keke Napeps because they move at a much slower speed than other vehicles and even when they occur, passengers are better protected and can escape more quickly than those on Okadas or in buses. Keke Napeps have no doors and so people can easily get in and get out.

A third benefit a passenger gets from patronizing Keke Napep vehicle is the the ventilation. Compared to commercial buses, people board a Keke Marwa because it has more open channels for fresh air to get in and circulate in the vehicle while it's in motion or parked. So, passengers normally feel more comfortable in a Keke Napep because the doors or windows are absent.

The seating arrangement in a Keke Napep consists of 3 passengers at the back and a 4th person in the front who sits with the driver making it a total of 5 persons in the three-wheeled vehicle. The front seat is the most inconvenient for most people as They prefer sitting at the back so as not to be inconvenienced by the driver as he sways the vehicle. However, some people also prefer the front especially in cases where there are more obese people sitting at the back just to avoid the inconvenience of sitting close to such people. Yes, fat people are normally an inconvenience for most passengers as well as drivers too because they occupy more space than expected. At times, drivers tend to make the fat people [pay for 2 seats rather than one if their size takes about 2 seating spaces and while some fat passengers may find it insulting, others don't mind paying for it.

In terms of their routes, Keke Napeps are normally allowed to ply routes located within Local government areas and less trafficked areas and not allowed to go on long distance trips. They normally pay a form of tax to their local government for things such as parking or loading permits and their trips last for about 10 minutes while their loading time varies depending on the demand for their routes by passengers. Some routes have more demand than others and some tend to vary depending on the time of the day.

Drivers of Keke Napep make a good living in Nigeria as their income helps them live above way above the minimum wage and yet pay less taxes. They are able to pay for house rent and raise a family. It has been reported that they make about N150,000(about $475) per month which is a good income for someone living in Nigeria.

What is the price of a Keke Napep in Nigeria? Well, the price depends on the brand, model and the condition of the vehicle. A new one goes for about N500,000(about $1585) while a used one can for for around N160,000(about $500) based on black market exchange rate. Brands like TVS King, Meka, Bajaj and Piaggio are popularly used in the Nigerian market and they are mostly made in and imported from India.

A Keke Napep operates like a normal petrol engine car as it used petrol for its engine but it has less controls than a car. It has a hand steering for turning the tyre like a motorcycle and has brakes with rectangular body resting on a total of 3 tyres. While they normally have a key for starting it's engine, some can be started with just the key while some older versions require that a lever be manually pulled from the floor before it starts.

In terms of their speed range, Keke Napeps can operate from 0 to 80 km/hr and so are not as fast as regular vehicles on the road making them a bit safer as they are less likely to be involved on over-speeding accidents.

Keke Napeps are available at most cities in Nigeria and transport fare ranges from N50($0.16) to N200 per passenger with N50 being the least fee in most cases.

They normally take passengers from a park allotted to them by their local government or association and they pay fees for registration and for loading passengers from the park. When loading from their park, the fare rate is pre-agreed on and passengers are informed in advance while they make payments after they reach their destination. They are also free to pick up passengers on the road as well as offer private transport services for a negotiable fee. So, drivers of Keke Napeps make money in Nigeria through offering public as well as private transport services and some prefer the latter over the former because rates are more favourable to them.

Lack of change or lower currency denominations is what most drivers of Keke Napeps complain about to passengers as some passengers bring big currency notes of about N500 to N1000 when boarding a Keke even though the fares are as cheap as N50. It's always advisable to have the correct change if you intend taking a Keke Napep to your destination as the drivers always complain of lack of change and they may delay you are after you get to your destination. They are however generous and won't want to steal your money from you as they are mostly diligent in looking for change for the sake of customers who they expect to remain loyal to them.

Keke Nape drivers normally load passengers at their parks on a turn by turn basis i.e. first come first served and they normally attract passengers by shouting their destinations aloud for e.g. Lawanson! Lawanson!!. When their Keke is fully loaded, they then leave but not before telling all passengers to have their correct change in hand. They don't collect their fares in advance but only after they reach their destination. At times, the vehicle may break down along the road and passengers may choose not to pay any fare, continue the journey with the driver or wait for the driver to load them into another vehicle.

Since they operate as a public commercial service, their vehicles are normally painted with a distinct colour that is uniform with the colour approved by the state government and in Lagos state, it's normally a deep yellow colour which is similar to the colours with which Danfo buses and taxi cabs are painted.

A lot of Nigerians like taking Keke Napeps for a variety of reasons such as the fact that they are safe, well ventilated, they can escape heavy traffic, they can easily through narrow paths and cheap too. Parents prefer their kids take Keke Napeps to school rather than motorcycles because bikes are more dangerous. Old people prefer Kekes for the same reason too since a bike accident can cause them serious disability for the long term.

Many state governments in Nigeria promoted the introduction of Keke Napeps as a gradual way to eliminate the need for commercial motorcycle transport which has been regarded as one the most dangerous means of public transport in Nigeria and a nuisance to their environment. However, as a result of the fact that many young people are jobless and so were engaged in motorcycle transport, state governments have not been too willing to totally place a total ban on Okadas and so prefers that Keke Napeps would gradually replace them based on demand by the public.

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