WCW: Asakpa, The Life Of A Female Taxi Driver

Her passion to be distinct and self-employed led Susan Asakpa to venture into the cab business. And though women have started emulating men in the area of commercial transportation, Susan Asakpa, a young university graduate in Abuja, is determined to take the venture a notch higher, by building a reputable organisation out of her cab business solely for other women that may be interested in her line of business. She is also hoping that it outlives her.

The graduate of accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is no stranger to business. While observing the compulsory one-year National Youth Service in Taraba, she was into food business on the side, providing lunch packs for civil servants.

Going down memory lane, she says: “I have really never been the kind that favours employment, though I always had this mindset of graduating and getting a job in the background. So, I started out with a banking job as a marketer, from where I moved to a hotel job as a manager. It was after spending almost three years, coupled with the low income that triggered my desire to go into driving.
“My father took a loan of N720, 000 from his friend with a promise that I will pay up in February this year. At the end of that month, I was able to pay N500, 000. So I still owe N220, 000.”

And though Susan says she feels fulfilled driving a taxi, she always have some misgiving when people tell her she shouldn’t have bothered going to school, if she had to end up in this line of business.

“But I believe that education is important in whatever one does, it makes a difference. I love what I do presently and I intend building it into an empire. The plan I have for the business is such that women running cabs won’t do it from 5:30am in the morning till 6pm like I am currently doing. There will be shifts with each lady taking the car for six hours and returning it at the end of six hours. And so, nobody gets overworked, but then I know when I am married and I have a family, I might not be able to put as much hours. I don’t think that even if I slow down, it would affect the business negatively; it will still grow,” she says.

Association lauds FG’s ban on vehicle importation through land borders

The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Mrs Vicky Haastrup, on Tuesday commended President Muhammadu Buhari, for banning the importation of vehicles into the country through the land borders.
Haastrup gave the commendation while reacting to the ban announced by the Federal Government on Monday.
She said the move, if well implemented by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), would reduce smuggling of vehicles into the country and revive the operations of Roll-On-Roll-Off (RORO) terminals in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that RORO terminals are specialised port terminals that handle all types of vehicles.
Haastrup urged the Federal Government to take a step further by scrapping the high import duty regime imposed on vehicles by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013.
“We are confident of the ability of President Muhammadu Buhari to turn the economy around.
“The earlier ban on importation of rice and now of vehicles, through the land borders is a welcome development.
“We are happy that the President has listened to our appeal to reverse policies inherited by his government from the former administration and which have deprived Nigerian ports of cargoes to the advantage of the ports of neighbouring countries.
“In addition to this ban through the land borders, we appeal to the President to return the import duties on vehicles to 20 per cent from the prohibitive 70 per cent tariff imposed by the former administration,’’ she said.
According to her, the reversal to the old tariff will serve as an incentive for Nigerians to import legitimately through the seaports and make appropriate payments to government.
“This will boost revenue collection by the Nigeria Customs Service. It will also lead to the return of lost jobs at the affected ports.
“We also appeal to Customs officers at the border posts to support the Federal Government and the NCS leadership by ensuring that no smuggled vehicle finds its way into the country through the land borders from Jan. 2017 when the new policy is expected to come into effect,” Haastrup said.
She said since 2014 when the 70 per cent hike in the tariff of imported vehicles came into effect, Nigeria had lost 80 per cent of its vehicle cargo traffic to the ports of neighbouring countries.
“Since the high tariff was introduced, importers have resorted to landing their vehicles at the ports of neighbouring countries and smuggling them into Nigeria without paying appropriate duties to government.
“This amounted to huge revenue loss to Customs.
“The policy also led to loss of more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs at the affected ports,’’ the STOAN chairman said.

Uber drivers in Nigeria can now apply for used-vehicle loans based on driver performance

As a result of partnerships entered into between Uber Nigeria and First Bank of Nigeria Limited, as well as smaller financiers, Uber Nigeria is making low-interest, used-vehicle loans available to its top-rated driver-partners. For the first time, Uber driver-partners in Nigeria will be able to apply for finance for used vehicles based on their driver performance records.

According to Ebi Atawodi, general manager for Uber in Nigeria, the used-vehicle finance offering is the first of its kind to be made available to Uber driver-partners in the country and this is in keeping with Uber’s stated commitment to constantly develop forward-thinking partnerships that benefit its driver-partners.

Building sustainable, profitable businesses

“We are absolutely committed to making it as easy as possible for our driver-partners to start and maintain their own successful and profitable businesses,” Atawodi explains, “and these used-vehicle finance options make it possible for those with a demonstrable performance commitment to building sustainable businesses without incurring the high costs often associated with new vehicle purchases.”

The move is set to create significant business growth opportunities for driver-partners by allowing them to access used-car finance from First Bank of Nigeria Limited at a very competitive interest rate of just 20% per annum over a 24 month repayment period. Alternative offers for used-vehicle finance on the Uber Vehicle Solutions Programme will attract 22% per annum, with a maximum repayment term of 36 months.

According to MD/CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited and Subsidiaries, Adesola Adeduntan, the Bank is committed to supporting entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses which are pivotal in stimulating economic development. “It remains our business to foster the growth and development of small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria as the number one SME Bank. This is the reason why we have partnered with Uber by empowering operators to own vehicles and build profitable businesses,” he further stated.

In order to qualify for this preferential used-vehicle finance from First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Uber driver-partners will need to be able to demonstrate an average driver performance rating of higher than 4.5 and have earned more than N2,400,000 in the preceding six months.

Innovative business-building solutions

Atawodi is quick to emphasise that Uber’s commitment to helping its driver-partners build their businesses extends far beyond just making innovative vehicle finance available to them. Rather, these offerings come on the back of Uber’s existing range of innovative business-building solutions, including Uber Marketplace, which is a one-stop national vehicle access solution designed to connect driver-partners and investors to suitable vehicles at discounted rates.

Uber Nigeria also recently launched its well-received UberMomentum Partner Rewards Programme that delivers localised discounts, preferential deals and rewards exclusively to driver-partners and small business owners.

“The growing suite of vehicle finance, business and lifestyle solutions that Uber Nigeria is making available to driver-partners and other business investors reaffirms our commitment to supporting and partnering with them to ensure their success,” Atawodi explains, “not just in terms of helping them to increase their income and profits, but more importantly by affording them every opportunity to truly transform their lives by establishing and expanding viable and sustainable businesses of their own.”

“By linking these solutions to the performance of our driver-partners, we further increase their chances of long-term business success, while at the same time building a network of transport professionals that Nigerians know they can trust to get them to their destinations safely and comfortably,” she concludes.