Low patronage forces commercial drivers, Okada operators to abandon business for farming

Low patronage coupled with the high cost of foodstuffs in the markets had forced some commercial drivers and motorcycle operators in Ikole-Ekiti to abandon their businesses for farming.

Investigation carried out on Tuesday by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Oye, Ilupeju, Ikole and Ayedun in Ekiti State, revealed that the numbers of motorcycles and taxi drivers plying roads in the communities had reduced drastically.
The few motorcycle operators, otherwise known as Okada riders, and taxi drivers plying the roads disclosed that some of their members had decided to embrace farming due to low sales.
Mr Timothy Okanlawon, a commercial driver plying Ikole to Ado-Ekiti, said the increase in price of petrol had resulted in reduction in the numbers of passengers patronising them.
Okanlawon also said the current high cost of food stuffs was a challenge to them since they live in agrarian communities, where they could plant different crops for consumption.
On his own, Mr Mike Afolayan, an Okada operator in Oye-Ekiti, told NAN that proceeds from his business was no longer enough to cater for his family.
``In the past I used to make an average of N1, 800 daily but hardly make N800 now since last month when fuel price was increased.
``Its a common sense decision since we have farmlands in abundance where we can farm.
``It is only the lazy ones that would not strive to find an alternative to complement his or her main source of income under this economic hardship, `` Afolayan added.
Mr Isaac Ajibade, a commercial motorcyclist, said abandonment of transport business was normal occurrence during every planting season in the area.
Ajibade, however, said the current planting season was peculiar due to mass exodus of his colleagues to farm.
He stated that the awareness on the importance of farming and agricultural diversification on radio and television contributed to the move.
In his comment, an elderly commercial driver, Mr Abiodun Ajayi, who plies Ikole – Osogbo route, said he had been practising farming alongside transport business for over 35 years.
Ajayi, who claimed to be one of the senior drivers, advised his colleagues to embrace farming, saying that the income from transport business could no longer sustain them.
``If public servants who earn huge salaries could engage in farming, why shouldn’t common drivers and Okada riders? ``he asked.
He, however, said that some of them still operate in the evening time when they returned from their farms.
Ajayi advised able bodied men and women, irrespective of their vocations, to use the opportunity of living in rural areas to embrace agriculture.

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