Commercial transport and its impacts in Keffi
Ismaila Yusuf Usman1, Bala Musa Babao1, Musa Ibrahim Aliyu2
1 Department of History, Faculty of Arts, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria
2 Department of Political science, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria
This paper tried to look at commercial transportation and its impact in Keffi because of its significance to the socio-economic growth in the area. The development resulted to the establishing relationship between the people of Keffi, their neighbour, the state and the country at large. Economically, the development reduced the rate of unemployment particularly among youth. Commercial transportations, in Keffi despite its advantages, it causes a lot of problems like road congestion environmental pollution and spreading diseases by the drivers and passengers that mingled as a result of travelling. The government generates revenue from commercial transportation business but many people neglect the development that is one of the reasons why this Research is carried out. As a result of carrying out this research, M.Sc. thesis and other writing of the various students and scholars were gathered through which my research comes out. I have come to understand that if the government will improve the state of commercial transportation in Keffi, the area will experience change in commodity market, labour market, geographical specialization, large scale production, increase in competition and increase in land value.
Keywords: commercial transport, economically, environmental pollution and spreading diseases
The history of commercial transportation in Keffi dates back to the pre-colonial era. Within this period generally in Nigeria, commercial transportation facilities such as good roads with emphasis then on the bush paths. At present, the modes of transportation in Keffi are road transportation. “The potential significance of road development for investment, trade, growth and poverty alleviation has long been recognized. Not only does road transport infrastructure facilities the direct provision of services to consumers, it also provide intermediate inputs that enter into the production of other sectors and raise factor productivity” .
According to Onokala, P.C. “By lowering the cost and reducing the time of moving goods and services to where they can be used more efficiently, road development adds value and growths in Keffi town. Over time, this process results in increasing the size of markets which is a precondition for realizing economics of scale. Good roads project clearly contributes to poverty reduction by improving the living conditions of people and by augmenting the opportunities available for trade and employment” .
In this regards the economic development of Keffi town has reflected the development of her commercial transport systems. This is particularly due to the road transport system, which is by far the most widely used mode of transport in the country. It is based on this that Ameigbebhor, D.E cited that; “of all commodity movements to-and-from the sea-ports, at least two-thirds are now handled by road transport while up to 90% of all other internal movements of goods and persons take place by roads, commercial transport contributes to the economy directly through addition to capital stock via increase in infrastructural development. Commercial transportation system generally provides the artery through which the economic life of the people, information and raw materials as well as finished products can be moved from one place to the other” .
This therefore helps to build and maintain the entire community of Keffi, thereby leading to economic growth of the town. It is in this context that this paper considered the road transportation system n Keffi more viable than any form of transportation, especially for the fact that; Keffi town lack other areas of transportation system such as the air transportation, since there is no any air-port in Keffi, but they are not of economic relevance compare to the road transportation system.
But nevertheless, this paper will go as far as trying to list out all the forms of commercial transportation generally, but shall only dwell on road commercial transportation, since that seems to be the only viable commercial transportation in the town.
Thus, even the socio-political relationship between Keffi town and other neighbouring towns could not have been possible without the influence of commercial transport links between them. Therefore “commercial transport can therefore be labeled as the catalyst that stimulates and improves human existence on earth and reduce distance for man’s trip in space. It is also clear that through commercial transport, the Keffi people have been able to move in space, circulate around the urban areas or centers of the state and the country at large, thereby improving and enhancing his knowledge on planet earth” .
It is however based on this backdrop that this paper will be concise to discuss the nature of commercial transportation in Keffi town, as it differs from the well-known types of transportation in the state and the country as whole, since there are no airports and railroads in Keffi, where the paper will hereby dwell basically on road commercial transportation (motor and motorcycle) since there are no other types of transportations such a s air water and rail in the town.
Origin of commercial transport in Keffi
Commercial transportation, which is the movement of people goods and information from one location to another, is said to be as old as man. Human beings have been known to have the desire to move from one place to another on the earth’s surface carrying with them, food, property and culture, depending on the technology available to them and what they can afford at the particular point in time. For many centuries of human existence mankind technologically developed various forms and modes of commercial transportation. In which is not different from what had been with the case of the Keffi community at the beginning of the 19th century before the arrival modern transportation system in the country.
Commercial transportation in Keffi, started with the primitive means of movement on foot or walking, where able-people will volunteer to carry the goods of other in exchange for one commodity and another, this system went on to the stage of using mechanical means of commercial system of transporting goods and people from one geographical location to another. In fact, the historical evolution of commercial transportation is related to the spatial evolution of economic systems worldwide. Using technological and economic developments all over the world” .
The historical evolution of commercial transportation from the pre-industrial era to the early 21st century into five major stages, each linked with specific technological innovation in the transport sector” .
Road commercial transportation system
There are however, several forms of the roads commercial transportation in Keffi town, but the paper shall, turn to basically look at the ones that are predominantly and commonly used among the Keffi people presently, which include; The Motor/Vehicle, Motorcycle/Bike and Keke Napep Commercial Transportations
The Road Motor Commercial Transportation
The picture above is to portray the nature of road motor commercial transportation system in Keffi town, as it is earlier mentioned, commercial transportation is a system of conveying people and luggage on road transport service from one place to another on commercial purpose through the use of motor cars. This is a system where the conveyer or transporter demand payment from the people conveyed to their various destination of activities or business. It is hereby, one of the profound systems of commercial transportation in Keffi.
The Motorcycle/Bike Commercial Transportation
In most Nigerian cities, especially state capitals and local government headquarters, the most common means of transportation before now has been the use of motorcycles for the movement of persons and even goods from one place to another. This mode of transportation has come to be known and called different names in different communities. In Keffi for example, it is called “going”.
The introduction of motorcycles in the commercial transport business in Nigerian has been described by many as a blessing as it afford youth ready employment opportunities and thus getting them occupied with useful ventures and reducing crimes. For others it is the quickest means of commercial transportation, due to the advantage it has in reaching very difficult and hard to reach areas as a result of untied or bad road networks within the Keffi axis. The ability of motorcycle to meander in between vehicles in spite of their being prone to accidents is often not a deterrent to passengers.
The Keke/Napep Commercial Transportation
The introduction of Keke/Napep in Keffi and the state at large, also called Keke Ta’al will herald a new era in the commercial transport business in Keffi local government area. This will afford the indigenes of the town a safer means of commercial transport system and also remove the insecurity tag that motorcycle have come to be identified with. A chain of job opportunities will also open up for mechanics that will engage in their maintenance. This era drastically reduce the vehicular movements that have become a dangerous phenomenon and bring more comfort for passengers who are often face with untrained motorcycles that endanger their lives through reckless rides. With the rainy season here, the sights of civil servants and other passengers falling off from motorcycles as a result of slips is greatly reduced with the use of Keke/Napep.
Impacts of commercial transportation in Keffi
The activities of commercial transportation in Keffi town have occupied a central position in the life of the locality which made it to gain political grounds, to which politicians have explore and are still employing the medium to the advantages of their political interest.
By the number of commercial transportation activities in The town, both the drivers of motor commercial transportation and the riders of motorcycle and Keke Napep constitute a political force, by regrouping many youths who are disappointed by particular decision makers to be recruited as under opposition parties most time as thugs.
In this regards many Keffi local government elected personalities have come to their administrative councils where they are found at the media fore-front to defend the interest of commercial transport unions simply to gain massive support of the young people towards their political ambitions. Therefore, they tend for support criminal acts that are committed by commercial transports employers and employees, such preventing insurance policies that would be for the interest of the larger community. Where most political leaders sentimentally explain that, these young people are just trying to earn a living by engaging themselves into commercial transportation activities.
It is a fact that Keffi local government council itself depends on the communities taxes that are collected from the motor and motorcycle. Owner to fill the coffers of the local council basically because of their hidden interest in these activities. Therefore, the commercial transportation system establishes a clear relationship between the political organization in Keffi community and the activity of these commercial transportation operators thereby; entail a “blind” solidarity among them. It is very common to find them sustaining one another in time of trouble by opposing one of them to either the force of law and order or to other public authority .
The unions of commercial transportation operator sometimes can adopt a violent behaviour to make their point even when they are wrong especially with the support of political opponents or opposition parties. This form of lobby has created a new category of persons who act in the distribution of power in Keffi locality, for example, the accession of Usman Bello who was one term president of Keffi commercial transportation Association union in 2009, his accession to this political position is linked to his position as the president of motor and motorbike taxi drivers and riders in Keffi. They are also involved in political propaganda. Fast becoming an essential element in the movements of population in Keffi, political aspirants use them as tools for propaganda as they are well known for their popularity and amount of awareness they can raise through the noise they produce by constituting a large number of unemployed youth that are engaged in commercial transportation ventures in Keffi” .
The 2015 Governorship elections of Nasarawa state, all the party supporters of APC political party mobilized all the motorbike taxis in Keffi to their cause, distributing to them T-shirts, caps whistles and other and other gadgets of the party. Where over 1,000 of them were used to parade the town and villages, in return, they received money for their fuel spent and a token to keep their bodies and souls together” .
In the cause of this research, in accordance to the numerous discussions with informants and other inhabitants of Keffi local government area, the popularity of a major political personality in town is also judged by his capacity to rally all the motor and motorcycle taxis to his course.
The members of the unions of the commercial transporters are used not only in political campaign rallies but also when the authorities want to pass over messages to the populations over a subject such as vaccination campaigns or HIV/AIDs prevention campaigns. In July 2008, the drivers and riders of taxis were given the necessary gadgets in the fight against aids such as condoms posters, t-shirts, caps and whistles. They paraded the streets horning and distributing condoms” .
Especially for the motorbike-taxis, they are indirectly as essentials components to the political image of many politicians and other personalities who use them as escort riders on special events such as on marriage or leading a funeral convoy. Their organizations and the association of the commercial transportation unions in the front of such convoys which gives it a presidential look and brings more fame to the persons who hired them.
Through this political impact, the motor and motorcycle taxis have carved out a space for themselves in the political organization not only, of Keffi town alone, but equally rally in the entire state. Whereby, the friction between motor and motorcycle taxi drivers, riders and forces of law and order are becoming very common in deteriorating societal norms and values. Their indefectible solidarity in a town like Keffi has pushed them to impose themselves in the streets of the city while defying present laws that are regulating their profession.
The access created by the gradual development of Keffi commercial transportation system have impacts of increasing productivity and production as farmers will no longer have to go through the plight of restricting themselves to subsistence farming mainly just to prevent food wastage.
This means that, with the advent of commercial transportation, agricultural surpluses are strategically transported to either local market squares or even the urban areas by creating various places of utility in order to conserve wastage of foods crops and at the same time maximize profit proportionally which rather encourage commercial farming to better the economy of the locality.
The access and advantages created by the commercial transportation system in Keffi, has thus provided farmers with larger markets to sell their goods from one place to another. Increases in real income may cause induced expenditure on the part of farmers who may even purchase from other sectors, but most importantly, the commercial transportation system has created communication networks within the villages in Keffi local government and the state at large.
The provision of access routes enables farmers to get in touch with extension services which would in turn teach farmers modern methods of farming to maximize profit and reduce losses. Adoption to those modern methods of farming by the influence of commercial transportation has as well again increased productivity and production causing increase in real income which may not only stimulate industries but also go ahead to encourage savings and thus influencing the economy in a positive way.
The Keffi commercial transportation impacts the local by paying taxes to the Keffi local government council through the union. This is a ready source of income for the council which relies on such contribution to realize its objectives. More so, the Keffi town itself has no enterprise on which the city’s council can rely on. On a daily bases, the commercial transporters thereby, pay N 100 as entry ticket, where the councils makes daily revenue.
With the advent and gradual development of Keffi commercial transportation system, the economy of the town today is in a continuous booming all year round. The economy no longer depends on only agricultural produce or markets squares levees as well as harvest which come out twice a year. Even for some petty traders functioned periodically have become more viable but only with the presence of commercial transportation town that have installed their trading activities on a permanent bases. Through which the council’s budget has been witnessing gradual increment with daily revenue collected from the sales of entry tickets. This activity has created secondary ones such as shops specialized in motor and motorcycle and as well as Keke/Napep spare parts or appliances.
In this regards, the introduction of commercial transportation activity has also forced development into certain enclave village. Through an increase in the trade flow between Keffi town and it vicinities. Goods are easily transported from the villages to the town and vice versa flexibly. This also made the maintenance of roads in the towns to witnessed graters attention.
The presence of commercial transportation in Keffi town has also made great impact on transport fares. Where transport fares has dropped with the proliferation of commercial transport operators especially with the presence of motorcycle commercial transportation. The competition between the two wheeled-engines and regular transport vehicles has resulted in favour of the former which taxes fewer prices for a rapid and efficient trip than the land rovers and four wheeled cars that are limited to certain destinations.
Commercial transportation as well has great impact on the Keffi community especially in the area of employment. The activities of commercial transporters are propelled by farmers. It is in this wise that many farmers have left the farms either on a temporary base or on a permanent base to become “Okada riders” within the Keffi town. The activities have offered employment to over 200 men in a town which has no major enterprise to absorb the growing number of unemployed youths of which many had decided not to become farmers like their parents. It is in this wise that these activities have come to daily living and as well as take care of their family ones. Where by even degree and diploma holders that are unable to find a job in the big cities return back home in an urban-rural migration process in order to exercise and engaged themselves as motorcycle taxi riders” .
The activities of commercial transporters have also created auxiliary jobs such as motor, motorcycle and Keke-Napep-taxi mechanics that are specialized in the repairs of vehicles and motorcycle. Where over 20 repairs spots are already present employing youths who also earn a living by their technical knowledge. Fuel vendours are another category of those who have found an employment in connection to these activities.
The last category of employment which aroused from these activities of commercial transportation operators is the accessory shop owners who sell motor parts, as well as motorcycle and Keke-Napep spare parts.
To analytically understand the socio-cultural impacts of commercial transportation are to briefly look at the view of Ameibebhor, D.E. on acculturation. Where he said; “when alien cultural trait diffuse into a society through migration on a massive scale, acculturation frequently is the result. The culture of the receiving society is significantly changed. However acculturation does not necessarily result in a new alien culture trait completely replacing old local ones. There often is a syncretism or an amalgamation of traditional and introduced traits. The new traits may be blended with or worked into the indigenous cultural patterns to make them more acceptable” .
This is actually the case with the emergences and introduction of commercial which is one of the major trends that is fostered by the advent of commercial transportation system in the community, in which it led to a new means of movement that have come to affect the mode of life of the Keffi Indigenous people. Therefore the impact of commercial transportation activities on culture is hereby, analyzed in several domains, such as;
Impact of commercial transportation on socialization, socialization with the Keffi people’s original background requires the boy child to be educated by his father and other males of the extended family while the mother take care of the girl child.
In the course of the socialization of the male child, he is thought to become a “man” through his initiation into the traditions of the people. But however, with the development of the introduction and development of commercial transportation taxis in the area of the motorcycle commercial business to be precise has purchased most of the indigenous Keffi people out of town. Some parents today offer motorcycle taxis to their sons in order for them to acquire courage manhood and become socially responsible.
These also has further introduced a new wave a mixed culture into the community where people from diverse locations have come to establish themselves in the town through the means of this same commercial transportation services. And as a result, bring and introducing new senses of cultural activities and new forms of socialization in the town both in language and life style.
Commercial transportation also has impacts on formal education in Keffi town right from the colonial period till date. For examples, the contact of the Keffi people with Europeans brought in a number of changes in their life styles of the town, affecting their mode of socialization with the introduction of formal education through the Christian missionaries. Today, Keffi central and its attached villages have over fifteen western education institutions of learning. Consequently socialization is not only limited to the private domain (family) but also in the public (schools). Students and public enrolled in these institutions depend greatly on their families for their education and evolution in society. In as much as the coming of commercial transportation taxis have come to create a problem of school drop-outs. Where many students abandoned school to undertake minimal services in the motor and motorcycle commercial transportation taxis riding for the boys, it is even responsible for the introduction of the western education in the first place.
In Keffi today, many students from these western education institution who have become riders of motorcycle after dropping out from schools. And also, whatever a student fails the GCE and feels discouraged, he immediately enter into motor or motorcycle commercial business as an income generating activity to enjoy all the advantages which goes with it. This situation attracts friends who are still in school and are tempted to follow suit to make end meets academically but whom finally left school to become fulltime riders” .
Socio-cultural, commercial transportation services also has impact on religion whether acculturation takes place often depends on the relationship between the culture that is receiving the new traits and the original culture. But the introduction of motorcycle commercial taxis as a new means of movement has been adopted by the people of Keffi. Nevertheless, this adoption has undergone some transformation in the host culture. This is in the form of religious syncretism. Just as in all other religion, there exist rites and rituals in the Keffi community. Some of these practice have been affected by the introduction of commercial transportation taxis in Keffi, most people from various places who have relocated or migrated to the town through the means of commercial transportation have brought in different forms of religions that have stood to replace the initial existence of the indigenous Keffi people from the traditional religion to the emergence of Islamic religion in the 1800s and finally with the introduction of Christianity by the Europeans which later began officially in the 1900s with the advent of colonialism, have completely changed the original religion of the Keffi people different forms of religions today in competition.
Diversely the activities of commercial transportation in Keffi town have contemporarily underlined the economic development of the town positively and have become more dependent on relations with other environments (resources) as well as more dependent on relations across space. While resources remain the foundation of economic activities, the commoditization of the economy has been linked with higher levels of material flows of all kinds. Concomitantly, resources, capital and even labour have shown increasing levels of mobility. This is particularly the case for multinational firms that can benefit from transport improvements in various significant markets which has only been made possible through the existing trends of Keffi commercial transportation, such as” .
Commodity market: the Keffi commercial transportation services have made efficiently great improvement in the efficiency with which firms have access to raw materials and parts as well as to their respective customers. Thus, the commercial transportation system has expanded several opportunities to acquire and sell a variety of commodities necessary for industrial and manufacturing systems across the community within other communities across the state and the country at large.
Labour market: improvement in the access of labour and a reduction in access costs, mainly by improved community (local scale) or the use of lower cost labour (global scale). Has basically been facilitated by the existing trends of commercial transportation.
Through which the Keffi commercial transportation provides market accessibility by linking producers and consumers so that transactions can take place from different communities. A common fallacy in assessing the importance and impact of commercial transportation on the economy is to focus only on transportation costs, which tend to be relatively low; in the range of 50 to 10% of the value of a good. Commercial transportation is hereby, an economic factor of production of goods and services, implying that it is fundamental in their generation, even if it accounts for a small share of input costs. This is implies that irrespective of the cost, an economic activity cannot take place without the services of commercial transportation factor. Thus, relatively small changes in public transport cost, capacity and performance can have substantial impacts on dependent economic activities of the Keffi people to be efficiently connected with other communities in order to exchange valuable items of economic interest.
Geographic specialization: another positive impact of commercial transportation in seeing the improvements of communities which favour a process of geographical specialization, and as a result, it increases productivity and spatial interactions between the people of Keffi town with the outside communities. In which economic entities tend to produce goods and services with the most appropriate combination of capital, labour and raw materials. The region will thus tend to specialize in the production of goods and services for which it has the greatest advantages (or the least disadvantages) compared to other regions as long as appropriate commercial transport is available for trade. Whereby, through geographic specialization supported by efficient commercial transportation, economic productivity of Keffi town is promoted.
Large scale production: an efficient commercial transport system of Keffi town offers cost, time and reliability advantages which enables goods to be transported over longer distances. This facilities mass production through economics of scale because larger markets can be accessed. The concept of “just-in-time” in supply chain management has further expanded the productivity of production and distribution with benefit such as lower inventory levels and better responses to shifting markets conditions. Thus the more efficient commercial transportation becomes, the larger the markets that can be serviced and the larger the scale of production in Keffi will increase.
Increase competition: as the commercial transport in Keffi becomes efficient, the potential market for a given product (or service) increases, and so does competition. A wider array of goods and services become available to consumers through competition which tends to reduce costs and promote quality and innovation. Globalization has clearly been associated the Keffi community is gradually growing to become.
Increased land value: land which is adjacent or serviced by good commercial transport services generally has greater value due to utility it confers to many activities. Consumers can have access to wider range of service and retail goods while residents can have better accessibility to employment, services and social networks, all of which transcribes in higher land value. In this case, the Keffi commercial transportation activities are strategically serving as tools to increased land value, particularly for residential activities. Which it will also contribute to economic development through job creation and will derived economic activities. Accordingly a large number of direct (freighters, managers, shippers) and indirect (insurance, finance, packaging, handling travel agencies, transit operators) employment are associated with commercial transport. Producers and consumers take economic decisions on products, markets, costs, location, prices which are themselves based on the efficiency in the commercial transports services.
From walking to riding a horse, from riding a horse to riding a bike, from riding a bike to driving a car in Keffi town, the people’s way of commercial transporting improved a lot throughout periods of times.
Today, commercial transportation provides people with a way to carry goods from places to places. It is meant for people to save their times every rural area, commercial transportation in all forms has a big impact, on the society and economy. The commercial transportation system in Keffi town had so far, developed so well that people now rely on the system every single day. Although, the commercial transportation system has made so much positive benefits in the community but as well, posed so much negative impacts to the town, such as creating serious damages on the environment as well as diseases to the community.
However, there are several negative impacts which begin with the road accidents that are caused by these commercial transporters (both motor drivers and motorcycle drivers) across Keffi town, where in most times, such accident lead to loss of lives. In such incidence have severally repeated itself countless-time.
Road congestion is also another negative impact of commercial transportation despite its positive benefits to both economic and socio-cultural benefits. This is because with traffic congestion, vehicles no longer move faster, in which if it continues for a long period of time then it begins to defeat the efficiency of commercial transportation to the movement of human beings from one place to another as well as goods and services.
Keffi-Abuja high congestion
In the process of this research the spread of diseases in Keffi are commonly found among commercial transportation drivers, who don’t have any base of their own because of the nature of jobs and as they move or drive around, is either they are contracting disease from passenger or they are spreading diseases to passengers .
Also in the same vein, most commercial transportation operators are found of defiant attitude such as, the immoral acts prostitution and getting young ladies pregnant nowhere to be found as they move to another location because of the itinerary nature of job.
Commercial transportation is hereby, just like a coin that has double side. It conveys socio-economic benefit in Keffi town, but at the same time, it impacts the environment several negativism. The growth of transportation activities has been playing a negative role on our environment from the beginning. And first of all air quality is what it is impacting. From all the vehicles and motorcycle, the gas particles that affect the air quality and human body are released. These let had particles such as: lead (Pb), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2; not a pollutant), methane (CH4), nitrogen oxides (NOx), nitrous oxide (N2O), is repeatedly released every single day to harm the inhabitant and indigenous people who live in the town. When the polluted toxic air is inhaled into the human lungs, it increases the risk of getting cancer and other related diseases. This causes many deaths every year, which prompted to the interest of this research in the first place.
Pathetically, I wish commercial transportation only affects air quality, but it goes beyond as it posed several other threats to the lives of the Keffi people in general, it thereby also caused noises. The advent of commercial transportation causes so many highway sand chaotic noises every day in the town, which directly harm damage the hearing system of the peoples who reside in the town. These negative noises can also make a person’s characteristics disturbing and unpleasant in a long term effect.
Also with critical analogy, the development of commercial transportation in Keffi has fostered massive movement of people across the community, where young people easily move from one village to another, in order to be engaged in the commercial activities of motorcycle popularly known as “Okada” or “going” within the Keffi town which is basically caused by the fast growing level of migration into the town.
The high noises spread people in urban areas and force them to move out from where they live. This leads people to expand the urban areas, which eventually destroy the land for agriculture.
Conclusively, originally the beginning of commercial transportation in Keffi can only be discussed or traced back to the origin of commercial transportation in Nigeria as a country. But nevertheless, the history of commercial transportation in Nigeria itself it is dispensed in three phases, (pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial commercial transportation) the focus of this paper is commercial transportation in Keffi Local Government Area, which is restricted only to vehicle commercial transportation, motorcycle commercial transportation and Keke-Napep commercial transportation from 1960-2020. The impacts of commercial transportation in Keffi are however, the same as a two-sided coin paradoxically. Where on one hand, there the positive impacts which dwell more on the benefits that commercial transportation has to offer to the Keffi community politically, economically or socio-culturally advantageously. There are as well the negative impacts on the other hand which dwell on the disadvantageous aspect of commercial transportation in Keffi, such as the diseases that are spread by the commercial transporters and the immoralities that these transporters engaged in, especially for the motorcycle riders who are most times even used as political thugs.