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Keke Napep: how to start the business, major considerations and risk factors

keke-napep-tricycleOne of the key necessities of life is transportation. Man is designed to always be on the move to work, school, place of worship, recreational spots and other places of interest. Keke NAPEP has been one of the means of transportation that is found virtually in all states of the country.

The reasons for its general acceptance are not far-fetched. It is affordable for commuters with fares ranging from N50 to N100. Secondly, its small size makes it possible to navigate in dense traffic. Thirdly, it is a close substitute to Okada which is generally regarded as unsafe and can be used to commit crimes.

History of Keke Napep in Nigeria

The story of Keke NAPEP cannot be complete without mentioning Okada ( the famous motorcycles on Nigerian roads). Up to the late 80s, Nigerians depend on buses and taxis to move around. But in the ‘90s, people started to use Okada for commuting for obvious advantages of speed and mobility. The avoidable accidents and crime surges associated with Okada created the space for Keke Napep.

Keke Napep also had an ancestor in Keke Marwa. Brigadier-General Muhammed Buba Marwa was the beloved Military Administrator of Lagos  State from 1996  to 1999. Among many other applauded initiatives was the importation of several tricycles to Lagos to empower the residents and ease the problem of commuting in the state. With this act, Marwa immortalized himself in the heart of Lagosians.

In 2001, the Olusegun  Obasanjo administration established the National Poverty Eradication Programme which was meant to significantly reduce the level of poverty in the land. Since then, NAPEP has distributed thousands of tricycles to people across the 36 states of the country.

Keke is a Yoruba word for bicycles and tricycles. The indigenous name further points to the fact that Lagos was the first to launch the commercial use of tricycles in Nigeria.

What you need to start up the Keke business

You may decide to drive the Keke yourself or hire from a reliable hand. This is where it becomes tricky if you do not conduct a background check on the hired hand, your investment may go up in flames.

You also need to determine the profitability of the routes you want to ply on. You need to enquire from existing operators on the profitability of driving on that route.

Sourcing for the capital required to start a Keke Napep business

There are various sources that can be harnessed to raise funds for the acquisition of Keke Napep. If you are able, you can save over a period of time to raise the funds. You can also apply for funding from Microfinance bank around you.

Many Nigerians are not aware that Microfinance banks are playing a huge role in financing small scale projects in the country. Another attractive option is the higher purchase.

Hire purchase can ease off the stress of raising 100% of the funds but it comes with a price in the long run- you pay more.

The buyer of the Keke Napep might require you to advance about 30% of the total price. You are then required to be making a weekly return of N15,000 to N20,000 until you pay off the price on the agreement. If you are going for this option, make sure that you read every line of the hire purchase agreement and bring in a third party witness to avoid avoidable drama later on in the relationship.

Popular tricycle brands in Nigeria

The brands of tricycles commonly used in Nigeria include:

  • Bajaj
  • TVS King
  • Piaggio
  • Daylong

How much is Keke Napep

The price of Keke Napep depends on the brand and whether it is new or fairly used.

Fairly used brandPrice range(n)
tvs king200,000-400,000
Brand newPrice range
tvs king600,000-700,000

How to register new Keke Napep tricycle

After getting delivery of the Keke Napep, you need to get a number plate and obtain a driving license. Registration for a standard number plate in Nigeria costs N12, 500 and can be obtained from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).

To obtain a driver’s license, go to an authorized Federal Road Safety Corps Drivers License Centre or apply online at https://www.nigeriadriverslicence.org/new (after getting your Test Certificate Number).

It is advisable that you register with a structured Tricycle park or association so that you can have peace of mind. These associations have agents monitoring the streets to harass unregistered tricycles. You will save yourself a lot of stress by doing the needful.

This also gives you the power of association in case of a problem with law enforcement agencies, passengers or any other emergencies. There is a one-off registration fee and daily operational fees which may vary per park and location. The one-off registration fee can vary between N25, 000 – N30, 000.

Repairing and Maintaining Keke Napep

In order to maximize your investment, it is important that you regularly service your Keke Napep. A monthly checkup with a mechanic (to change oil and check operational parts) is important to keep the machine in good shape.

You also need to be frugal with funds as there are daily costs such as fuelling, park fees and other associated fees.

Benefits of Owning a Napep

  • Keke Napep has created employment for thousands of Nigerians who would have been unemployed. Investigations show that  many graduates  are involved  in the  trade  to  put  food  on their
  • Keke Napep has also been of great help to Nigerians living in the hinterland with unpassable roads. The conventional taxis and buses will not consider using these routes, thus increasing the hardship faced by people in the communities. There  had  been cases  of neighbours  mobilizing  to  get   Keke Napep  operators  to move  into  these  areas  and  linking  up to the hinterlands  to the  mainland
  • Keke Napep has also reduced fatalities caused by Okada riders. It was alleged that at a time, the
  • Orthopaedic hospital at Igbobi had an Okada ward to attend to accident victims. Investigations showed that many people that will not use an Okada are more comfortable entering a Keke Napep.
  • The small size of Keke Napep also enables it to move relatively easily in traffic situations. This is one of the most important reasons that Lagosians cannot do without it. An experienced Keke driver can move between vehicles in a secure manner which will not be possible with Okada.

Keke vs Okada (3 wheeled vs 2 wheeled)

Compared to Okada, the risks of using Keke Napep are minimal. A passenger on a bike is unprotected (apart from the use of helmet).

Ramming into a bike means almost certain death for the bike rider and his passenger. Since the Keke Napep’s body is metallic, it offers extra protection against weather and accidents.

Also, since fuel consumption is relatively low, the environmental impact of its emissions is not significant.

How Keke differs from Okada business

Price: Motorbikes (Okada) are far cheaper than Keke Napep. With N200,000-N250,000, you can get a  brand new Okada but this will not be enough to buy a  Keke Napep.

Speed and mobility: Okada is faster and easier to navigate in traffic. This is the reason it is difficult to completely eradicate it from Nigeria’s roads despite several clampdowns by state governments.

Safety: Keke Napep is safer to commute in than Okada. The protective body cushions the commuters from road hazards.

Comfort: The Keke Napep offer several comforts for the commuters which are not available on Okada. Commuters can sit more comfortably, listen to music and even enjoy the air conditioning!

Security: Okada has been used in various hit-and-run criminal escapades. This has led to its ban in various states in the country. Since Keke Napep is less mobile; it is not readily used by criminals for their nefarious activities.

What to consider when buying Napep Tricycle

Brand:  Always go for brands that manufacture high-quality tricycle

Budget: I have already given the prices above, know your budget and spend according to it.

Fuel consumption: Different Napes, different fuel consumption rates – seek advice from your neighbour or friends or family members already in the business on which brands are equipped with better fuel economy.

Spare parts availability: Before buying, please make sure there are spare parts available for the brand you want to buy. You do not need to travel miles away to get spare parts.

Durability:  This is vitally important as to the owner making a profit. Know which brands the life span of each brand and how you can use them to your own advantage. From there you can understand the route to put it into depending on the condition of the roads.

Advice to Nigerians

Frankly speaking, both Okada and Keke Napep are dangerous and have wasted lives already. I strongly advise Nigerians to choose Keke rather than Okada for safety reasons. Nothing is worth your life.

Many Nigerians have been killed and maimed on bikes driven by unregulated and often high youths.  You need Keke Napep to move fast and safely.

I appeal to the government to speedily arrange for the manufacture of Keke Napep in Nigeria. This will create employment opportunities and also reduce the cost of buying the Keke.

Right now, at an average price of N700, 000, Keke Napep, ironically is no longer for the poor. If the poor cannot afford a tricycle, what option will be left for the masses?

Akinwale Akindiya

This article was written by Akinwale Akindiya.