National President of Amalgamated Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners, Repairers, and Riders Association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN), Shehu Babangida, said the association has Twelve (12) million members across the country.
Less half of the number may be found in Lagos alone judging by its population. He claimed that they have helped to reduce the rate of unemployment and criminality in the country by engaging vulnerable youths.
And I agree with Shehu because so many graduates today are either Okada or tricycle operators, thus easing tension, crime and frustration in the society.
So many of the youths who have taken to these business have families and dependents, yet, some state Governments banned them and others are thinking of banning them, with Lagos state government going a notch higher by tinkering of crushing the impounded over 4,000 motorcycles.
Lagos State Government said it would crush and recycle over 4,000 impounded commercial motorcycles known as Okada for infringing on provisions of the Lagos state Traffic law 2012.
State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni ordered his men to clampdown on Okada riders across the state in accordance to Lagos state government’s resolve to address the security concerns, even as, he claimed that criminals are in the habit of using Okada to perpetrate crime and get away.
The Lagos Traffic Law 2012 prohibits the operations of Okada and Tricycles also known as Keke Marwa from operating in certain routes and areas across the State.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode had directed that the Police and other security agencies concerned redouble efforts to ensure the Law is complied with, assuring that the clampdown will be sustained vigorously on a daily basis.
Hear Owoseni: “It would not be one off. So far, we have impounded about 500 motorcycles since we started our renewed efforts and we now have a total of about 4, 000 bikes ready to be crushed. The law made provisions on how those motorcycles should be handled and the law also made provision on how to handle those that have flouted the law itself.”
Probably it was with the provision of the law but is the idea perfect? Mobile Courts would even be instituted to try operators and residents who patronize the Okada riders and Tricycles operators.
Even, the State Government is considering an outright ban on Okada operations in some areas of the State starting with the Lekki and Victoria Island axis.
The Lagos state Government and Commissioner of police may be rights that flagrant abuse of traffic law by these riders results in avoidable accidents and death of innocent citizens. He may be right also that some use them for crime but are vehicles, airplanes, canoes, to mention but a few not used for crime?
I am not quarreling with the alarm on the rising menace and flouting of traffic by Okada and tricycle riders or the 8pm for them to be off road. Again, I am not against the allegation of crime being perpetuated by some of them. Neither, am I against trial of citizens appealed to stop patronizing Okada and Tricycles plying restricted areas.
I am totally against crushing the motorcycles and Tricycles impounded by the Lagos state Government taskforce led by commissioner of police or whoever in Authority because it is a double tragedy. The owners should be called to take their motorcycles back at a fee and the remaining would be auctioned rather than crushing them.
The confiscating is enough pains, then paying to regain them is an overdose. So needless crushing them as it serves neither the state nor the owners any purpose. The pains of regaining the seized item is enough warning. The over 4,000 motorcycles and Tricycles could be used in other climes where there was no ban or the owners could sell it off and make little recovery.
Worsening scenario from Acting Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Olanrewaju Elegushi came up shortly as he said the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode warned all commercial motorcycles to steer clear of restricted routes as the clampdown on defaulters would be total.
“We have an enforcement unit led by the Commissioner of Police, the Task Force on Environmental and Other Special Offences, the Divisional Police Officers and the Area Commanders. They have started enforcement and we came to see how far they have gone,” Elegushi said.
But thank goodness that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has advised State governments in the country to jettison their plan to ban commercial motorcyclists popularly known as Okada from operating in their domains.
Importers and users of these motorcycles have been crying over these for long insisting that the ban would put many families in jeopardy including importers, parts sellers, repairers and users among others even government IGR.
Amaechi said that motorcycles and tricycles should not be banned nationwide because doing so would affect the country’s economy negatively.
He spoke at the celebration of the National Day of Amalgamated Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners, Repairers and Riders Association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN).
The minister said: “I don’t think we should ban Okada because if we do, it will affect the economy; they only need to be trained to obey rules and regulations.
“The issue of security, safety and regulation should be dealt with at the state level; state governments should train Okada riders”.
Despite my ill feelings about all the crisis I believed Amaechi caused in Rivers State starting from former President Goodluck Jonathan’s era, this is a wonderful view from a Transport Minister. I commend him on that stand and appeal to him to join me appeal to Lagos Governor, Ambode not to crush those 4,000 motorcycles. There is an alternative which Cornucopia has suggested. That option is better. May the motorcycle owners’ labour not be in vain? Tampering justice with mercy makes a lot of difference.
I believe that the operators should be trained to reduce their recklessness and compliance with rules because they play vital roles in the transportation sector, including evacuating agricultural produce. Time will tell what happens next.
Cornucopia is written by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, a Publisher, Editor and a Journalist based in South-East. 08060750240 , E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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