Eking out a living through Keke NAPEP (tricycle) transportation business

Keke NAPEP business in Nigeria is one aspect of transportation that is booming today. As the population of Abuja and its environs keep increasing on a daily basis, the movement of people from one place to another is also on the rise. ADEOLA TUKURU writes.

Tricycle business

Commercial tricycle business popularly known as “Keke NAPEP” which started as a spare time engagement, is now considered a worthy business by the operators. With a tricycle rider delivering between N5 to 6,000 daily, the business generates at least a tangible amounts of money daily.

According to reports, commercial tricycle business contributes to the economy of those engaged in the sector and by extension an expansion of gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.

The use of tricycles for commercial purpose had been on in some parts of the country as a popular means of commercial transportation in response to the hard times .

That means the economic growth cannot support the burgeoning population growth rate. In addition, Nigeria turns out about 1.5 million tertiary institution graduates annually without any plan to gainfully engage them after school.

Many of them after embarking on job hunting for a number of years are frustrated and are willing to take up any job, including riding the tricycle, just to keep body and soul together.

According to Madam Lydia Ogar, a tricycle rider, after five years of job searching, “I decided to take up the job. It is with it, I cater for myself, and children . So, if a better job comes, it’s welcomed and if it does not, I am contented with this.

Advent of Keke NAPEP

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced Keke NAPEP in 2002 as part of the poverty alleviation programme. Since then ,it has become the means of survival to many and also become a safer alternative, conveying people on short distance journey to their destinations.

Nigerian youth have welcomed it gladly, since it gives them better alternative to staying at home .It also gives anyone who is willing, the opportunity to invest in this lucrative means of transportation.

Easy money

Many people; young and old, educated and unlettered are easily lured into joining the business because of the ease with which money is made through it.

Easy movement

One of the features of living in urban centres is the endemic traffic gridlock in which residents on a daily basis lose productive man-hours and business appointments.

To aid fast movement and journey through gullies and potholes on city roads, many residents ride on it not minding the drain it causes in their purse.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors have also contributed to the rising interest of Nigerians in the business. The shrinking size of Lake Chad and extended dry season has made cattle rearing and farming in the northern part of Nigeria less lucrative than they used to be. Therefore, many youths from the North migrate down South to become tricycle riders.

Easy acquisition

It is a bit easy to acquire a tricycle for commercial purposes for those who are determined and are willing to take the risk. Usually, there are dealers who are ready to give out the tricycles on hire purchase agreement to the riders who either pay weekly or monthly installments.

Checks revealed that most of those who get the tricycles on hire purchase arrangement usually pay back within 18 months.

Quite a number of politicians who embark on poverty alleviation programmes often give it out to some beneficiaries of their constituencies. Such gestures have helped many people to become riders.


However, despite being an avenue for young and unemployed Nigerians to eke out a living, tricycle riding is not without its downsides.

High accident rate

According to Micah and Owagbemi, commercial tricycles have a higher rate of crippling and fatal accidents per unit distance than cars and buses. They added that, “A 1998 study at the Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, showed that injuries to limb occurred in 79.3 per cent of patients who reported at the emergency ward of the hospital. These patients were linked to commercial tricycle accidents.”

Reduction of the stock of artisans

With many artisans abandoning their trade to seek easy money from the business, a critical sector of the economy is being endangered. A number of companies are finding it difficult to employ artisans who are critical to their production. Not only does this hamper the progress of the companies, it also affects the growth of the economy.

Checks further revealed that artisans such as tillers and masons are brought into the country from the neighbouring countries. The implication of this is that while Nigerians are complaining of unemployment, the available ones are being given out to foreign nationals.


Insecurity has escalated with the rise in the use of tricycles for commercial purposes. When insurgency broke out in the North, tricycles were used by the insurgents to carry out their attacks.

Quite a number of state governments have banned the use of Okada in city centres and accommodated tricycle because of the threat they pose to the security of the people. In many estates in the country, Okada riders are not allowed opted for tricycle. Okada is seen as a means through which vices are perpetrated.

Things you should know before venturing into tricycle business

  1. You must check the strength and the quality of the tricycle you want to buy because it is not all tricycle you can use for the business, the quality of the tricycle determine to a large extent how much you will be taking home.
  2. What is the fuel consumption rate: the fuel consumption rate of the tricycle should be put into consideration too,
  3. State Policy: check maybe the state in which you live allow tricycle business. You will agree with me that not all the states in Nigeria allow tricycle business.
  4. Integrity check: you should ensure that whoever you’ll be giving it to help you drive must be somebody that is trust worthy that is if you don’t want to be you don’t want to ride it yourself this is very important because most of the people that collect people’s tricycle at the end of the day use it anyhow they like so as somebody who is going into this business you have to be very careful in this regard.

Nigerian youth have welcomed it gladly, since it gives them better alternative staying at home .it also gives anyone who is willing ,the opportunity to invest in this lucrative means of transportation.

Doing it yourself

In case you choose to operate the machine yourself, the result will encourage you to do more .Daily, you could make up to N4,000 to N7,000 depending on the turn-out of passengers in your location .

There are also other charges required to pay to the Association daily, Part of the money goes to the government purse . The maintenance is cheap, the parts are readily available,N1,000 fuel could take you for a whole day if your carburetor is sound enough.