Despite the gains consistently highlighted by the Imo State government for banning the operations of Keke operators in Owerri metropolis, majority of Owerri residents are lamenting over the disadvantages of the ban.
Most of them complain that since the ban came into effect on December 1, 2017, they have mostly resorted to trekking long distances due to insufficient taxi cabs in the city.
” I trek a lot since keke was banned in Owerri. Most times I find it difficult to get to work on time because the few cabs are scrambled for by passengers. This is the same scenario when I want to get home as passengers scramble for the available taxis and buses. And I fail to get a cab, I trek a long distance” said Mrs.Okere Iwuoha, a primary school teacher.
This newspaper observed that despite claims by the State government that it has released more cabs to cushion the effect of the ban on Keke, residents still find it difficult to get cabs to their destinations.
Mr. Greg Iwu said the ban on Keke has increased the hardship of the people. He added that the timing of the ban is wrong coming barely a month to Christmas and New Year celebrations.
” The timing is wrong. Many people are coming into the town from various parts of the State for the Yuletide . And they need to move from one destination to another. Now that there are no Keke and few cabs, it will be a very difficult situation for the people ” Iwu said.
It was also observed that people cluster at strategic locations to wait for the fewer cabs. Most times, commuters scramble among each other just to catch up with a cab or bus.
In some cases, it leads to a scuffle or hot exchange of words among passengers.
It was also noticed that vehicles which are not road worthy now ply the roads as cabs, majority of them without the official yellow and black stripes approved by the State government for taxi cabs.
Mrs. Chioma Egejuru expressed worry that the unauthorized vehicles could pose security concerns.
” This is a dangerous situation and could pose a big risk as this will feul criminal activities such as kidnapping” she said
” A bad person could pose as a taxi driver and take advantage of the desperation of a passenger or passengers especially during night hours” she said