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Uber Killing Our Business, Lagos Taxi Drivers Lament (VIDEO)

Nigeria: Special Report – Uber Killing Our Business, Lagos Taxi Drivers Lament

By Oladeinde Olawoyin
Jolted back to reality by the presence of this reporter having been dozing off for what appeared the whole day, Lawal Azeez sprang to his feet to make enquiries about this reporter’s intended destination. Mr. Azeez was later joined by his colleagues, a group of old and middle-aged men. With desperation written boldly on their faces, they all scrambled amongst themselves to gain the attention of this reporter, whom they had erroneously identified as a potential passenger..
But the reporter’s response, detailing his mission at the park, would later dash their hope, and they all wobbled back to their respective positions, awaiting the arrival of another passenger.
Mr. Azeez, 49, and his colleagues are taxi operators. But like others at the taxi park located around the Central Business District, CBD, Ikeja, their business has been disrupted by the activities of Uber operators.
Uber is an internet-enabled, relatively stress-free transportation system that allows passengers order for cabs wherever they are at fairly cheaper cost. The system, which started around 2014, has been widely accepted by internet-savvy Nigerians who prefer it for comfort and safety purposes.
“Ah, Uber people have spoilt business for us; I must confess,” said a disgruntled Mr. Azeez, when probed by PREMIUM TIMES.
“To be frank, I didn’t make a kobo yesterday. These days, in a whole week, you may not get N5,000… which wasn’t the situation before now,” he lamented.
When asked to give a rough estimate of how much he used to make daily before the alleged ‘disruption’ by Uber drivers, the Ogun State-born taxi driver said he couldn’t give an exact estimate.
“But I know we make something in the region of ten-thousand plus daily on the average,” he said.
“But as I speak to you, if you make N5,000, you must thank your stars. You, too, must have noticed it from the atmosphere here… imagine how everywhere appears deserted.”
Mr. Azeez’s position was corroborated by another Taxi operator at the Ikeja CBD, Hassan Murphy.
Mr. Murphy, 43, explained that the activities of Uber drivers have been a source of sorrow for them as they no longer get patronage like they did in the past.
“If you notice, there are many taxis on ground here and their owners aren’t here. They’ve all gone home out of anger,” he said.
“Many of them have been here for hours without seeing any passenger; they had to go.”
Mr. Murphy, who claimed to have built a house from his taxi transport business, also lamented that the development has taken a toll on his responsibilities among family members and at the home front.
“These days, people I used to give N20,000 in the past would count themselves lucky if I give them N3,000.
“It has become so bad here in this park that in a whole week, it may not get to your turn to pick up passengers,” he said.
“That’s apart from the fact that we pay dues too. They tax us N200 daily and N1,000 weekly, despite the poor patronage.”
“RECKLESS, UNSUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MODEL”
According to Messrs. Azeez and Murphy, although the business model adopted by Uber operators affects their business as taxi drivers, it is “reckless and unsustainable” even for the Uber operators.
Explaining further, they noted that what Uber drivers charge their passengers as transport fare is “ridiculous”.
“From here (CBD, Ikeja) to Maryland, Uber may charge N800,” said Mr. Murphy.
“That’s nonsense. How do you maintain your big car and service it and realise what you will use to cater for yourself from that money?
“For a trip to the Airport, they charge as low as N600 sometimes, while we charge N2,000 or N1,500.
“See, let me tell you, unemployment is the reason people are into Uber. Ordinarily, the business is not sustainable,” he said.
Mr. Azeez, on his part, agreed with his colleague, adding that many of the Uber operators are workers who got retrenched from companies due to the state of the economy.
“Joblessness caused Uber, and it won’t last for long” he said.
On his part, another taxi operator who identified himself simply as Baba Sanje, noted that Uber would soon fade into extinction, like other similar initiatives that came before it.
“Uber met us on ground, they will leave us in the system. We have survived other similar competitors for decades. This ‘Yellow and Black’ (Lagos taxi) has nowhere to go,” he said in Yoruba.
“TAXI, MORE SECURE”
Speaking further, the taxi drivers told PREMIUM TIMES that their taxi system is more secure and safer for passengers than Uber.
Citing a case of a passenger whose belonging was allegedly stolen by an Uber operator, Mr. Murphy explained that taxi drivers are more “loyal and trustworthy”.
“Uber operators are ghost workers and they don’t have any union. Passengers don’t know them and you can’t even spot them from outside unlike us that have our ‘yellow and black’ identity,” he said.
“We are more loyal and trustworthy. When people lose their materials, we give them back; Uber people don’t!”
Mr. Azeez on his part added that Uber will soon fade away because, according to him, most of the operators are “running at a loss”.
“Before Uber, there were Orange Cab, Easy Cab and Metro Taxi, they all folded up,” he said.
“Yes, there also was Afro Cab… LSPC, RED cab, Easy Ride, Oga taxi… they folded up.
“POD too came and folded up. But the ‘Yellow and Black’ taxi survived all of them. It will survive Uber too.”
Uber drivers, however, disagree with the assessment by the taxi operators.
Charles Daniels, a Uber driver, dismissed the account of the taxi drivers, saying they were pained by the popularity and acceptability of the Uber system.
“I won’t say Uber is really profitable, especially now, but it still provides food for some of us,” he said.
Another Uber operator who declined to have his name in print, said in response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry on how much they make: “You know, we charge very reasonable amount… so we don’t make huge figures like that… but it is something good… say thirty-something thousand naira or even more weekly.
“That’s not too bad, I guess… and it still depends on days of the week and how energetic you are,” he added.
PASSENGERS REACT
Habeeb Adewale, 27, a regular user of Uber, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, explained that he prefers the system because of the ease it affords him to order for a cab wherever he is.
“Wherever you are, Uber will locate you without stress,” said Mr. Adewale, a banker who lives and works in Lagos.
Femi Owolabi, another Lagos-based passenger, said the system is cheaper and safer, especially for night crawlers.
“Uber, preferably (because of) the comfort, and the timely service,” he told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview when asked about his preference.
For James Abiola, an IT expert, the Uber system is preferable because of its cheaper cost and comfort.
“Sometimes, Uber allows you comfortably ride an exotic car with less than a thousand naira,” he said, amid laughter.

A Game Worth the Candle: Terror and the Agenda of our Elites | Articles

A Game Worth the Candle: Terror and the Agenda of our Elites

Chris Floyd

Published: 14 November 2015 
People see the carnage in Paris, and cry, “When will this end?” The hard answer is that it is not going to end, not any time soon. We are living through the horrific consequences of decisions and actions taken long ago, as well as those of being taken right now. The currents and movements set in motion by these actions cannot be quelled in an instant — not by wishing, not by hashtags of solidarity or light shows on iconic buildings … and certainly not by more bombing, destruction, repression and lies, which are the main drivers of our present-day hell.

There will be no end to rampant terrorism soon because our leaders are not really interested in quelling terrorism. This is simply not a priority for them. For example, in the past 12 years they have utterly destroyed three largely secular governments (Iraq, Libya and Syria) and turned them into vast spawning grounds for violent sectarianism. They did this despite reports from their own intelligence services and military analysts telling them that the spread of violent extremism would almost certainly be the outcome of their interventions. But for our leaders — both the elected ones and the elites they serve — their geopolitical and macroeconomic agendas outweighed any concerns over these consequences. Put simply, to them, the game was worth the candle. They would press ahead with their agenda, knowing that it would exacerbate extremism and terrorism, but doubtless hoping that these consequences could be contained — or better yet, confined to nations seen as rivals to that agenda, or to remote places and peoples of no worth to our great and good.
Our leaders are not opposed to terrorism, neither as a concept nor as a practical tool. Over the past several decades, our leaders and their allies and puppets around the world have at times openly supported terrorist violence when it suited their aims. The prime example is in Afghanistan, where Jimmy Carter and his Saudi allies began arming and funding violent jihadis BEFORE the Soviet incursion there. In fact, as Carter’s own foreign policy guru, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has openly stated, the United States began supporting Islamist terrorism in Afghanistan precisely in order to draw the Soviet Union into the country. Despite fierce internal opposition in the Kremlin, the Soviets finally took the bait, and sent in troops to save the secular government it was backing from the fundamentalist rebellion.
Ronald Reagan continued and expanded this policy. The same type of men now in charge of ISIS and al Qaeda were welcomed to the Oval Office and praised by Reagan as “the moral equivalent of our founding fathers.” They were given arms, money and training in terrorist tactics by our military and intelligence services. They were given textbooks — prepared, financed and distributed by the US government — to indoctrinate schoolchildren in violent jihad. The creation of this worldwide network of Islamic extremists was aimed at weakening the Soviet Union. This was the overriding geopolitical concern of the time. Any other consequences that might flow from this policy — creating a global infrastructure of sectarian extremism, seeding a radical minority with arms, funds and innumerable contacts and connections with state were considered unimportant. But we are now living with those consequences.
These are not the only examples of course. For instance, the United States supported — and went to war for — the KLA in Kosovo, a group that it had earlier condemned as terrorists for years. The cultish terror group MEK —which not only carried out deadly terrorist attacks in Iran but also murdered American government officials — is now honored and supported by top politicians from both parties in Washington. The United States now calls al Qaeda associates in Syria “moderate rebels” and provides arms to their allies. The United States is deeply involved in Saudi Arabia’s horrific attack on Yemen against the Houthis, who had been bottling up al Qaeda in the country. Now, thanks to US bombs and guidance — and participation in a blockade of Yemen that is driving the country to starvation — al Qaeda is thriving there again. The violent extremists that the West knowingly and openly helped in NATO’s destruction of Libya are now exporting weapons and terrorists throughout Africa and the Middle East.
Again, in almost all of these cases, Western leaders were specifically warned by their own experts that their actions would exacerbate extremism and violence. And again, with this knowledge, they decided that their geopolitical agendas were more important than these consequences. This agenda — maintaining and expanding their political and economic dominance, and preserving the power and privileges that a militarist empire gives to those at the top — was more important than the security and welfare of their own people.
In this, they are as one with the leaders of ISIS and al Qaeda. They too know that the chief victims of their actions will not be the elites of the West but the ordinary Muslims going about their lives in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and elsewhere. But their own similar agenda — power, privilege, domination — outweighs any concerns for innocent human lives.

This is the abysmal, despairing tragedy of our times. Our lives, and the lives of our children and descendants, do not really matter to our leaders; certainly not more than the agendas they pursue. And so despite the horrors we’ve seen in the past few weeks — and yes, the bombing of the Russian airliner, the mass murders in Beirut and Baghdad are every bit as horrific and grievous as the attack on Paris — nothing is likely to change. Our leaders are not even beginning to take the steps necessary to even begin addressing the consequences of their morally demented agenda and at last begin the long process of reversing the current of violence and extremism that assails us. Instead, at every turn, they are adding to the flow of death and madness, despite the stark, undeniable evidence of the consequences of their actions.
They say they are at war with terrorism. It’s a lie. They use terrorism and terrorists when it suits their agenda. They say they are “at war” with ISIS, an enemy which they tell us represents an existential threat to human civilization, and whose destruction is now our “highest priority.”  It’s a lie. In a real war against such a threat, you would make common cause against the common enemy, even if you find your allies distasteful. Thus the mutually loathing capitalists of the West and communists of the Soviet Union (and elsewhere) made common cause against Nazi Germany.
If we were really “at war” with ISIS, if its military defeat really was an overriding concern, then the West would form a military coalition with Iran, Russia, Turkey, the Syrian government and others to carry out this goal. It is obvious that for the West, the overthrow of the Assad government is far more important than defeating ISIS or bringing the conflict in Syria to an end by diplomatic means.

Instead, our leaders give every indication that they will continue the policies that have brought us to this dark and evil place. With the near-total ignorance and amnesia of our media class, there is little hope that public opinion can be mobilized to insist on a new course. And so, at some point soon, we will see more iconic buildings bathed in the colors of a Western nation (but never one from the Middle East, whose peoples suffer more, by several orders of magnitude, from the decades of extremism fostered by the West). And this will go on, year after year, until we decide that human life, human dignity, human freedom are more important than our leaders’ agendas of greed and domination.

Commentary by Nana Baakan: MODERN HIGH QUALITY WOMEN

Commentary by Nana Baakan: MODERN HIGH QUALITY WOMEN

I don’t agree with all that he says, but he really does have some strong points.

When I was in college I had a dynamic Professor and she would talk about stuff like this in terms of how we are kinda mixed up on what we perceive as what we want in a male partner, etc., etc., She really made me think about myself as a mother, wife and sister and how we actually do enable our men on too many levels in our efforts to make them be”???”  She said that because we knew that the Slave master was frightened of the power and strength of black men, in order to protect them, women would coddle their boys. These coddled boys became men who were literally dis-empowered and ineffective when it came to forming healthy partnerships.  One of the things that is so important to note is that without a societal construct that supports the male/female and familial construct and without the societal expectations matching, Black men are literally thrust into a whirlwind of inconsistencies and incongruities because it just don’t match up.

I don’t think that traditional matriarchal societies are non-supportive of the male energy. I think that traditional matriarchal societies recognize the role and purpose of both males and females and honor both, but because every one is born through/from a female, like the earth produces, the woman brings forth, so in that vein she has respectability and is highly regarded. This expands and expresses itself through the way that matriarchal society folks take care of the land, animals and nature overall. Women farm and men are taught to cook, sew, and various other crafts.  There’s no stigma attached to a man being able to cook, clean, sew, etc.  But men hunt, protect and provide for their family’s security. Women run the market place. Men are the political leaders; in general but even here there is a sharing of responsibilities considering what is needed.

Often times, matriarchal societies include the concept of the extended family, community, village, clan, etc. So the support system is there.  When Africans were enslaved, they were thrusted into a totally alien environment, with different morals, preceps, values and lifestyle. That in and of itself caused mental distortions of various degrees, Post Traumatic Slave Disorder, if you will.

WHY SOME AFRICAN-AMERICANS DON’T GO TO AFRICA …

I think  that it’s the western world’s ideology and dominion over lifestyle and it’s definition of what male/female relationships should look like; what family structures should look like, that is perpetuated across the relationship/familial landscape and even they know the model doesn’t work or is ineffective, hence the high rate of divorce and broken families in the Western Patriarchal world.

AMONG PROFESSIONAL WOMEN, AFRICAN AMERICANS MOST LIKELY WANT TOP EXECUTIVE JOBS

I think that there is a middle ground, where mutual responsibility for the cultivation, sustenance and maintenance of a society can be shared by all involved. That with mutual respect and understanding and allowing individuals to reach their fullest potential with an air of cooperation; healthy relationships across the spectrum of human interactions can be achieved. I believe that no extremes are good and that there is something to learn from a comparative study of the matriarchal and patriarchal constructs, but with all historical indicators considered and not in a vacuum and certainly not using the present day dysfunctional societies as a yardstick.

 

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