Like five years ago, a six-to-six curfew was imposed on tricycle operation in Damaturu due to eminent emergency situation and the frequent use of the Keke NAPEP in committing serious crimes especially terrorism, the curfew remains in place and not uplifted till date.
It’s worthy of note that the curfew has served it purpose and greatly improve the security stabilization with regards to reduction of crimes and has also brought about the existence of Taxi Motorists to start operating in the night hours between 6 pm and 10 pm in Damaturu due to the absence of Keke NAPEP.
The taxi motorists started operation on their own without any formal registration from either the government or any other regulatory body in the state for the past five years till date with no single common indicator or sign to identify taxis, the drivers only use touch light or their phones backlight to flash in the front dashboard as the sign for people to know that it is a taxi.
Residents of Damaturu town have lived with the dangers of using unregulated motorist that completely disappear in broad daylight and emerged out of the shadows of night, which some even have tinted glasses while being used for transportation for more than five years in which a lot of unpalatable experience from many individuals have happened.
For instance, sometimes ago, a lady was missing for more than a week after taking a taxi from around AP to Maiduguri road only for her to be found unconscious and completely unable to tell anything about what happened to her, many have lost their valuables by forgetting them in the taxis and have no way of tracking them as no particular office is provided for such.
It does not require any degree or high-level security intelligence to Know that allowing every scooby do with a car and torchlight to be a taxi driver in a society like ours is a reckless decision, the situation poses many security threat of kidnapping, robbery and even rape without a trace as no any form of identity is given to them which made it possible for anyone with a car to impersonate taxi drivers.
However, in other not to paint the whole system black, a taxi driver I had a conversation with said he currently has a medicated glass, food flask and a bag with small money left by passengers in his car but does not know where to reach them or any office to drop the items.
Another driver said, NURTW have started registering the taxi motorist and issuing them numbered big A4 size stickers as an identity of a taxi in the night, but the major challenge was that some people are actually not taxi motorist but youths who come out with their house cars and do the taxi in the night while some are personal and these particular people are refusing to comply.
Notwithstanding the effort of the union, it’s still risky to use stickers as an identity of a taxi in town, the stickers are temporary that and can be easily removed while or after committing a crime, in fact, the idea of using sticker itself shows how they have underestimated the great threat that is posed by the system.
The newly established YAROTA should know, that regulating taxi motorist with temporary stickers is a gross mistake and building the foundation of a whole system of a taxi on temporary stands is an error that would be regretted in the nearest possible time, as taxi transport is here to stay even in the advent of tricycle operations to resume night work in the cause of time, there is no confusion that the most common ways of identifying taxis even in developed countries and our larger cities in the country are by painting in agreed colour with permanent registered numbers with regulated authorities that would enable easy tracking of drivers in the case of emergencies and security allied issues.
It should not be different in Damaturu, the complains that taxi only operate for four hours is not a reasonable excuse to jeopardize the safety and security of the people. Therefore, the YAROTA and relevant bodies should do needful by enforcing all taxi drivers to paint their cars and imprint their registration numbers boldly in visible places of their car.
There should be no sacred cows or silver spoon boys who would be allowed to continue driving a taxi with proper registration and painting their cars.
A weekly radio program should be created in the state to educate people on traffic laws and announce all lost and found items in the channel so that people who misplaced their belongings can listen and know if they are taken to the agencies office for recovery.
The agencies should consider stiffer penalties for violators who refuse to conform after a certain timeline is given.
It’s our hope that with the establishment of a regulatory body like YAROTA in the state, the disgraceful culture of violating traffic lights in Damaturu by many Napep and motorist which is almost no longer a crime can be a thing of the history. May God be with them in carrying out their duties.
The federal republic of Nigeria.
JCI Nigeria Ambassador, Musa Gambo.
6th August 2020