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Our job demanding,risky Bolt drivers

By Maria Famakinwa

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Olayeni Olatunji, a 43-year-old graduate of Computer  Engineering, started using his car for a bolt transportation business (a business with an application that can be tapped to request a ride day and night) in Akure, Ondo State capital to augment his salary. He however revealed that he stopped the job last year after God saved him from untimely death. He however added that his resolve to quit the business was strengthened by the removal of the fuel subsidy.

His words: Though, I am a Federal civil servant but joined bolt business three years ago to support my monthly salary which I did on weekends. I am not ignorant of the hazard of the job but I always commit my ways to God’s hand and was alert. Once I carried passengers, I watched them from the side mirror to be sure of my safety but on the last Friday of August 2023, I got the order to pick up a passenger from Ondo Road to a place after Airport Road at Oba-Ile around 9.45 pm.

“Initially, I wanted to cancel the order but I thought of the price of a long distance which could fetch me good money. I went there and picked the two young guys who could be said to be in their early 20s. When we were going, I observed through the mirror their body language and began to pray.

“As we were approaching the Airport, one of them shouted “stop” three times and I looked back to see what was happening only for the second one to slap me and ask why I refused to stop after being instructed. I stopped and began shivering because there was no one to help as the place was lonely. One of them brought out a knife and asked me to either drop all the money with me or I lose my life. I begged them that I would cooperate, they collected my money and my phone and got down from my car. I became so confused that as I was reversing to go, I almost hit one of the guys who got angry and slapped me for the second time and asked if I was blind. My wife was worried because my phone which she called 20 minutes earlier was unreachable. I met her outside trying to locate me when I drove in. That was how God delivered me from untimely death last year because I would not have been able to do anything if they decided to kill me. That was the last time I used my car as a bolt,” he narrated

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Another  bolt driver, Mr Ola Oluseye, who also affirmed that bolt drivers are daily exposed to risk and insults even though the job has little or no gain revealed that he quit the job because it was not what he thought.

He said: “Generally, I’ve noticed that a lot of people who live in difficult terrains prefer to order bolts. So we are easy targets because people, including criminals, can have access to any bolt. I made it a point of duty to always check my passengers in the backseat through the rearview mirror, watching out for any suspicious movements. On this particular day, a lady living in a far distance after HOB made an order. Had I known the distance was that far, I would have canceled the order.

“I spent almost an hour getting to her location, at a point, I wanted to turn back but she was monitoring me through the Google application and started begging me not to turn back. When I eventually got to the place I discovered that it was the only building in the area surrounded by bush. My suspicion became heightened when I saw that the lady who made the order could not be more than 20 or 21 years old. I wondered what only she could be doing in such a secluded place because of this, I was inside the car and did not off the engine while I placed my leg on the brake pedal so that I could zoom off immediately if the need arose.

“The lady was asking me to come and open the boot so that she could put her bag, but I refused instead, I told her to put it beside her in the car and warned her not to open the bag till I dropped her which she agreed. I was so scared while driving her out of the area because there was nobody and no building. She quietly sat in the car as I watched her often through the car mirror. When I eventually drove out of the danger zone, I heaved a sigh of relief and asked her what she was doing in that lonely house with nobody and no electricity as a young lady. She only replied that was where she was living.

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“Though she paid me double the money due to the state of the road my car was badly affected. I then asked myself what would have happened if this lady had ulterior motives. Sincerely speaking, one could be killed there without a trace because there was no electricity in the area and I didn’t even know the name of the area which is about 15 kilometers after HOB. While going to pick her up, I crossed a river to show how far the place was. Aside from the risk involved, the bolt business is not profitable under the new fuel pump price . I spent most of the money I made on fuel because majority of those who order for the bolt are living in areas with bad road network coupled with struggling to meet the daily target and lack of rest which compounded the problem.”

Another Bolt driver, Mr Henry Brown, lamented that aside from the risk involved, bolt drivers face a lot of insults and most times run at a loss. The man who said he was doing bolt as a part-time job disclosed that he stopped it in May because of an increment in petroleum prices.

He said: “I thought bolt business was profitable until I joined last year January before I realized that my assumption was wrong. Most times, I spent 80 percent of the money made to fuel the car leaving me with little or nothing to take home aside from the wear and tear of my car which I spent money to repair barely every two weeks. The insult received from passengers is another factor that made the job discouraging. Recently, someone removed her baby’s diaper and left it in my car, right behind my seat and I didn’t know. The next passenger came in and said, ‘What is this rubbish in your car?’ I didn’t understand what she meant until I saw it. I said oh my God, I’m sorry. She said that shows you are very dirty.

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“Another incident that I can’t forget was when I picked a man and his girlfriend going to a popular hotel at Oke-Ijebu. This man started complaining about my car and that he made a mistake, he ought to have canceled the order because of the car I am using for the bolt. I kept quiet and started going.

When we got to the hotel, he said that he would report me to the authorities concerned because of the car I used to carry him. I asked if the car did not convey him to his destination, and he replied that instead of me apologizing for the inconvenience caused them I was claiming right, that he would not pay me.

 “I was so angry and wanted to forget the money before he walked up to me and paid with a warning that I should not try that next time that he only paid because I am   an old man. I can go on. There are some people who after placing orders would cancel them when you are already at the place  only to be saying that you came late, they wanted someone younger, or they didn’t like your car among others. Majority of bolt drivers have since left the job because it’s not profitable and cannot withstand the insults,” he disclosed.


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