Starting a Transportation Business in Nigeria, Cost and All you need to know

Transportation business is no doubt one of the best business in this country. Today i will be sharing with you knowledge i have gained interviewing Mr. Audu a successful transportation businessman here in Bukuru Plateau state Nigeria.

Howdy, folks! I reckon you’re here because you’re itching to dive into the wheel-spinning world of transportation business in Nigeria. Strap in, ’cause I’ve been on this ride for a good while, and let me tell ya, it’s a rollercoaster worth boarding.

Now, why should you care about the transportation game in Nigeria? Well, picture this: Nigeria, a land buzzing with over 200 million souls, each with places to be and things to do. That’s where we come in the transport hustlers, the folks who make sure people and goods are on the move.

I began this journey from the humble saddle of an Okada, zipping through Bukuru Plateau state with wind in my hair and a hunger for more. Life wasn’t a smooth ride back then; I dropped out of school, found myself on the streets, and hopped onto the Okada, a pedal-powered chariot of opportunity.

But you know what? That humble start was my ticket into a booming industry. I’ve seen the rise and fall, the twists, and the turns of the transport business. And let me tell ya, it’s a mix of grit, sweat, and yes, piles of Naira, if you know your game.

It’s not all sunshine and open roads, though. Starting this gig brings challenges pot-holes that rattle your profits, traffic snarls that test your patience, and the game of balancing costs against returns.

But hey, what’s life without a few bumps in the road, right? Stick with me through this blog post, and I’ll spill the beans on the highs, the lows, and everything in between. Let’s hit the gas and explore how this business holds the keys to both profits and potholes.

Starting the Transportation Business in Nigeria, Cost and All you need to know

Let me walk you through the diverse world of transportation business in Nigeria, drawing from my journey from being an Okada rider in Bukuru Plateau state to exploring different facets of this dynamic industry.

Commercial Bus Transport: This is the cornerstone of transportation in Nigeria. From those iconic Hiace buses to the nimble Sienna and the larger-than-life Coaster buses, the scope of this business revolves around ferrying passengers inter-town and inter-state. Operations are vast, involving both short and long-distance travels, catering to various passenger needs.

Taxi: Ah, the city cruisers! Taxis are the local heroes of transportation, zipping through town, getting people to their destinations within city limits. The rise of ride-hailing apps like Bolt and Uber has significantly transformed this landscape, making it easier for both drivers and commuters to connect.

Okada (Motorcycle Transport): My roots lie here! Okadas are the nimble two-wheelers that whisk people through congested streets and narrow alleyways. Though some states are phasing them out, their agility and convenience within towns and short distances remain unmatched.

Keke Napep (Tricycle Business): You’ve seen those colorful tricycles navigating streets, right? They’re the heart of local commuting within towns, providing a more comfortable ride than Okadas for shorter distances. They are gradually becoming a staple for quick intra-town travel.

Haulage Transport: Now, this is a different league altogether. Haulage transport deals with moving goods, not people. Trucks, tankers, trailers these heavy-duty vehicles haul everything from cement to petroleum across long distances.

Each type operates in its own unique sphere, offering different experiences, challenges, and opportunities. For instance, while bus transport might require intricate route planning and passenger management, haulage deals with the logistics of goods transportation, demanding strict adherence to schedules and cargo safety.

Choosing which type to delve into could depend on various factors: your capital, location, regulations in the area, and your understanding of the business landscape. For me, starting with an Okada was all about learning the ropes, understanding the pulse of the streets before diving into other aspects.

The operations of these businesses also differ. For instance, with buses, you manage passengers, ticketing, and maintaining routes. With something like a Keke Napep, it’s about shorter routes and regular pickups.

Navigating through these options is like picking the right gear for a specific road knowing what suits you best, aligning with the market demands, and managing the associated risks.

Remember, my friend, in this business, you learn by doing. Each type comes with its own set of challenges, but they also offer unique rewards. That’s the beauty and complexity of the transportation business here in Nigeria.

Starting Up Cost Of Transportation Business in Nigeria

I’ve seen the highs and lows, made a ton of mistakes, but each lesson paved the way for what I know today. Let’s talk startup costs, something every newbie should wrap their head around before diving in.

Passenger Transport

Commercial Buses: When I transitioned from an Okada rider to operating a commercial bus, it was a significant leap. Buying a good, Nigerian-used bus like a Hiace or Siena could set you back about 2 million Naira or more, depending on the condition. If you’re aiming for luxury buses like Costas or even foreign-used models, budget around 5 million Naira and up.

Taxis: Now, if you’re eyeing the taxi business be it using apps like Bolt or Uber or running a traditional town service, you could start with smaller, cheaper vehicles. Think along the lines of Sienas, Picnics, or smaller cars like Golfs or Carina Es, setting you back roughly 1.5 million Naira for Nigerian-used versions.

Okadas and Keke Napeps: For the two-wheelers, the entry cost is comparatively lower. To kick off an Okada business, you might need around 300,000 Naira or so. Keke Napeps, being a bit sturdier, would run you about 550,000 Naira.

Haulage Transportation

Trucks, Tankers, Trailers: Now, shifting gears to haulage transport, the stakes and costs rise considerably. If you’re eyeing trucking, prepare a budget of at least 10 million Naira for a start. Tankers and trailers, given their specialized nature and capacities, can go even higher, talking 15 million Naira or more for a good starting point.

Unexpected Costs: Oh, and let’s not forget, these prices are just for the wheels. There’s a myriad of other expenses, repairs, government fees, driver salaries, and whatnot. For instance, I remember once, shortly after getting my first bus, a pesky fault cropped up. Bam! Had to drop a substantial chunk just to keep it running.

The key here is preparation, always have some extra in the bank for those unforeseen expenses. They’ll come, believe me.

So, there you have it, folks, the cost breakdown for diving into the transportation business in Nigeria. It’s a rewarding endeavor, but it takes guts, smarts, and a good stash of cash to get rolling.

Steps to Start a Transportation Business

Selecting the Niche:

When diving into the transportation business, selecting the right niche is crucial. For me, coming from a background as an Okada rider in Bukuru, Plateau State, Nigeria, I understood the importance of choosing the right transport type. Profitability, budget constraints, and scalability were my main considerations. I weighed my options, considering factors such as the demand in the area, the initial investment required, and the potential for growth. It’s essential to choose a niche that aligns with these factors and matches your resources.

Acquiring the Vehicle:

Procuring the right vehicle sets the foundation for your business. Starting small, I opted for a Keke Napep through a hire-purchase agreement. This approach eased the financial burden and allowed me to build trust with the vehicle provider while establishing my business. Vehicle choice is critical; reliability and suitability for your chosen niche are paramount. I learned this through trial and error, ensuring the vehicles I acquired were well-maintained and suitable for the intended routes.

Registration and Union Affiliation:

Registering with road transport unions like NURTW, RTEAN, or NARTO is not just a formality; it’s a necessity. It legitimizes your business, grants access to loading bays, and establishes credibility within the transport community. As a school dropout stepping into this arena, union affiliation provided a network of support and guidance. It’s like gaining entry into a well-connected community that shares insights, resources, and protection.

Hiring Drivers and Operations:

The backbone of any transport business is the drivers. I’ve had my fair share of challenges finding trustworthy drivers. Some unreliable ones caused setbacks, leading to a loss in revenue. Establishing clear agreements with drivers regarding daily returns and responsibilities is crucial. Smooth operational management, from maintenance schedules to tracking daily operations, became a routine for me. It ensured efficiency and minimized downtime, maximizing profits.

Tips for Success in the Transportation Business

Starting small might seem counterintuitive in a world where everyone aims for the stars from day one. But believe me, it’s the best way to gather practical experience. When I first stepped into this business, I started with just one vehicle. It was tough, but that experience was invaluable. I learned the ins and outs, the challenges, and the unexpected twists this business throws at you.

Here’s the thing: unforeseen expenses are like potholes on our Nigerian roads, they’re everywhere! I’ve faced my fair share of them. From sudden breakdowns to unexpected repairs, these expenses can knock you off your feet. That’s why it’s crucial to always anticipate them. Set aside a contingency fund, because trust me, you’ll need it. When my vehicle unexpectedly needed major repairs, having that reserve fund saved me from a major headache.

Let’s talk about drivers. Oh, the stories I could tell! Selecting the right driver is make or break in this business. I’ve seen it firsthand. I once trusted a driver who ended up costing me more than I could afford. He was unreliable, made excuses, and even tried to cut corners. Managing drivers is a skill in itself. Now, I take my time, vetting them thoroughly. Trustworthiness and commitment are non-negotiable qualities.

Selecting the right team, especially drivers, is like picking the best vehicles for the job. It’s critical for long-term success. When you find a gem of a driver, treat them well. Incentivize good behavior and diligence. Trust me; it pays off in the long run.

So, aspiring entrepreneurs, heed these lessons from a school dropout turned transport business owner. Start small, prepare for the unexpected, and choose your drivers wisely. These simple yet profound tips can make or break your journey in the transportation business in Nigeria.


Having embarked on this journey myself, stemming from the rickety Okada rides in the bustling streets of Bukuru, Plateau State, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformation this business can offer. It’s a world where aspirations can turn into realities and where a school dropout like myself found a foothold.

The allure of the transportation business lies in its potential for daily gains. The roads hum with opportunities as millions seek to move from point A to B, contributing to the continuous demand for transport services. But make no mistake; these paths are not always smooth. Unexpected repairs, elusive passengers, or the trials of unreliable drivers can throw hurdles on the road to success.

However, armed with the lessons of experience and the insights shared in this guide, aspiring entrepreneurs can navigate these twists and turns more adeptly. The first crucial step is to understand that starting small can lead to exponential growth. It’s how I transitioned from an Okada rider to overseeing a fleet.

I urge fellow entrepreneurs to consider every aspect carefully. Remember, choosing the right vehicle is akin to selecting the sturdiest wheel for a journey; it’s the foundation of your venture. Equally crucial is the choice of drivers, trustworthy individuals who will safeguard your interests as if they were their own.

Forewarned is forearmed in this business. The cost breakdowns and revenue estimates shared here should serve as a compass to gauge profits against potential expenses. Be prepared for unexpected detours, and don’t let them derail your aspirations. For every setback, there’s an opportunity to learn and adapt.

As I sign off, I encourage each budding entrepreneur eyeing the transportation business in Nigeria to leverage the steps and strategies outlined here. With patience, diligence, and an eye on the road ahead, you can carve your path to success in this dynamic and ever-moving industry.

  • Ken

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