The celebrated theory of evolution embedded in Darwinism is not only peculiar to biology or ecology, it has it’s entry into sociology too. Over the years, homo sapiens have evolved not only in anatomy but also in conducts, migration, invention and economic activities. The most fundamental of 19th-21st century evolution is the rapid change in human migration and transportation. The British Industrial REVOLUTION originated advanced manual technology leading to rail transportation, invention of cars/buses, aeroplanes etc and the 20th century technology inspired automation allowing computers to communicate comfortably with hardware components like cars, doors, ammunitions etc but the 21st century has escaped evolution and paved way for revolution especially in transportation with the introduction of mobile hailing technologies like Uber, Taxify, In-driver and Tesla masterminding the driverless car technologies too. All these developments have impacted and will still shapen the evolution of urban lifestyle in advanced countries and most especially transportation in these super countries.
Fundamentally, Nigeria’s urban transportation has not evolved progressively as it ought to be despite the entry of global brands like Uber, Taxify, Gokada, Opay and even motorcycles taking advantage of the local challenges. These mentioned transport Innovations are commendable but far from adequacy.
In otherwords, Ibadan the largest city in West Africa and next in line after Lagos in terms of metropolitan status in Western Nigeria has not been isolated from the “transportation evolution” tactically “romancing” cities in Africa. For over 60 years, the city has been traditionally known for “peculiar public transport system” inappropriate for an ambitious city. Information about Ibadan is not adequate without the mention of “bus conductors” known for aiding bus drivers and also serving as “apprentices” in some cases, many of them are known as society rejected fellows finding solace in such employment or unguided young men embracing the venture as the most reliable source of income.
Undoubtedly, the “condor” job is mostly peculiar to children of the downtrodden mostly residing shanties in Ibadan city but the ending phenomenon of such jobs is what i find noteworthy. A good social observer will acknowledge the decline in numbers of “bus conductors” in Ibadan metropolis since 2010/2011 with the massive entry of “fragile looking cabs” commonly known as “MICRA”. The “Micra madness” started with the mass transit assisted scheme launched by Ex-governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala. By 2012, the “MICRA madness” grew limiting the dominance of “bone aching buses” plying the busiest areas in the city.
The “Micra revolution” at a point partly swept the transport activities in areas like Challenge, Mokola, Adeoyo, Ringroad, Iwo-road, Aleshinloye, Dugbe etc but eventually captured the “core city centres” like Gege, Idi-arere, Oke-Ado, Elekuro, Mapo, Oke-Are etc but i will resist forgetting the rise of the “Okada (motorcycle) economy” too which captured our streets and developing areas since 2003. But the most STRATEGIC of all that facilitated the decline of “bus conductors” in the city is the sudden craze for Tricycles known as “Keke Maruwa or Keke Napep”. Many of the unemployed youths that will naturally enroll in the apprenticeship of “bus conductor” have gallantly opted for Tricycle riding through flexible cooperative schemes and empowerment schemes by politicians.
These Tricycles are in fact biggest threats to “Micra cabs” especially when it comes to penetrating/plying roads in developing areas such as Odo-ona, Ologuneru, Academy etc and the defunct “AJUMOSE TRANSIT SCHEME” commenced by the previous administration of Abiola Ajimobi also demystified the conservative fabric of “bus conductors” in the last 7 years.
Conclusively, the essence of this analysis is to examine the social reengineering of Ibadan metropolis most especially as it concerns the very dreaded “bus conductor” menace that was once the most active source of employment for some of our youths. This analysis is a confirmation that a city can be socially reengineered positively with progressive urban and economic policies and there are still more untapped opportunities in public transportation that can help in revenue generation and formal employment for youths if well organised. If sixty year old transport sector can be reengineered in just few years of disruptions, who says city shanties like Gege, Foko, Bode etc cannot be reengineered to become livable and conducive housing estates.
Mujib Dada-Qadri is a Writer, policy and develpopment analyst