By Precious Ukeje with additional report from Jude Atupulazi
The directive by the Anambra State Government for drivers of shuttle buses and tricycles, otherwise known as Keke, to now operate between the hours of 6am and 7pm daily, beginning from May 29, has already left commuters counting their losses.
The directive is part of the government’s efforts to contain the rising insecurity in the state.
Fides crew who went round parts of the state capital to observe the level of compliance, reports that few of the vehicles were seen on the roads on the first day following the directive.
Some of the commuters however seemed to either have been ignorant of the order or were caught up on the road in the course of the day’s activity.
Fides reports also that there were some Keke and shuttle bus operators who defied the directive of the state government on the same day it was meant to take effect.
The popular Keke loading port at Dike Park, however had no tricycle waiting to pick passengers, a development which left some people stranded.
The few plying the Amawbia route increased their fare by at least a hundred percent, causing some commuters to walk to their destinations.
Law enforcement agents as at the time of the monitoring were nowhere in sight either.
A number of vehicles also arrived from Nnewi and Ekwulobia, with the passengers alighting at their various parks along Zik Avenue by Heritage Bank and Dike Park respectively, whereas some of the passengers needed to find their ways to several parts of Awka, such as Aroma and Amenyi areas.
A middle-aged woman, who declined identification, and who had just arrived in Awka from Nnewi, alongside her three children, baulked at the prospect of managing her children and her luggage en-route to Aroma Junction.
The government directive is also affecting virtually every other individual who does not have their own cars. When Fides visited the popular fast food outlet, Crunchies, around 6pm last Wednesday, it discovered that the workers did not allow those who came there to eat within, insisting they would only give takeaways in order to allow their staff members to beat the operational deadline of keke and shuttle buses.
Also the directive seems to be affecting businesses along the popular Abakaliki Street, now renamed Club Street. Some people interviewed there who pleaded anonymity, said the ban affected those who did not own vehicles more as they would be robbed of their much cherished night life, following their inability to get the usual tricycles that took them home in the night.
Another person, Vincent Chukwurah, a business man, said the directive was targeted against the poor as those who were better placed could move about as they liked.
‘Since there will be no means of going home after 7pm by those who only depend on keke and shuttle buses, it means many will now have to leave for home earlier, even if their business booms at night. That’s not good enough,’ he complained.
Meanwhile, a number of other commuters, traders and artisans also expressed worries, complaining how the government directive affected their movement and businesses.
In announcing the ban, the Anambra State Government had said the new directive would be in place for one month after which it would be re-evaluated. Would the state government restore the old order or would it stick to the current one? Time will tell.