Car hailing business is suddenly becoming a common transportation feature in Ilorin, a sharp contrast of what it used to be some years ago.
At the moment, of all the players in Nigeria, Bolt seems to be leading the Ilorin market. Few months back, I had to use bolt around multiple times.
On one particular day, I ordered a ride from the Olorunsogo axis of Ilorin to Zango.
My rider (Emmanuel -name changed for security reasons) appeared like an Igbo man as his pidgin accent presented him.
During the course of the trip, we got talking, and he had to switch from Pidgin to Yoruba, and I was mesmerized.
His Yoruba was so strong that I could not but marvel how deeply he must have neutralized. This is not the Lagos type of Yoruba. I mean the very original Yoruba as a typical Ilorin demon*** will deliver it with all the nuances of crude village-ness.
This is not my first time of making such encounters. Nearly all Igbo traders dealing in one electronics or the other on Taiwo road have native Yoruba language speaking proficiency.
I think many of them were born here and have had both primary and secondary education in Ilorin, attending same school with children of the native.
Back to my bolt ride, a slim young man in his early 30s or late 20s. Calm and spoke honorable as possible.
“So, you run your bolt ride business only in Ilorin,” I enquired.
“Yes, this is my base for now. I started here.”
“But is the market that profitable here,” I cut in.
“Not exactly. But it’s something. And, the bolt people are not helping us. Too many wahala,” he replied.
“How come you are still in the business? You could also leave for a busier or better state like Lagos since you already qualify with your car,” I charged.
“It is not that bad. We have our ways around it too as drivers. Offline trips helps a great deal.”
“Yeah, I heard you guys use the offline stuff to demand outrageous charges. O ga o! Onikaluku pelu ijoba ti e,” I sighed.
“Hahaha, koribe o. All na survival tactics. Offline is our opportunity to make money since this bolt people are not willing to understand our plight.”
“In fact, we have once staged a protest. All to no avail,” he went on to explain.
“So, offline trips are our only solace. In fact, we simply use their app to gather contacts of potential customers. Once these people meet us after ordering a ride from the app, and are satisfied with our service, we can convert them into offline riders. They will simply call us whenever they want to go out without using the app. That way, we are not paying bolt a commission. Plus, we can charge them without using bolt’s regulated prices.”
“Agbako!” I jested.
“Awon bolt gangan ni agbako,” he asserted. “Won care nipa wa. We fuel our cars, pay for maintenance, and when our tyres have issues or our engines develop problem, they don’t share in our predicament. The only time they surface is when we make sales -always ready to cut their share.”
“Lobatan,” I laughed. “So, how much do you make from your offline trips on average?”
“Hmmm…” he murmured. “10k, 15k, 60k…”
“60k bawo? I interjected.
“Some offline people charter me to Lagos. I charge between 50k to 60k.
“Is this to and fro?” I enquired.
“Rara o. Go and come bawo? Na just go. Go and come na times two like that. In fact, once I enter Lagos, I go on my app, and do some runs before returning to base.”
It was really a nice ride with Emmanuel. The trip was over, and we parted ways. I think he is not doing bad as a rider in Ilorin. I can only wish him the best in the years ahead. And, hope that ride hailing companies like Bolt, Uber can be more hospitable to their signed riders.
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