A clog in the wheels of okada riders

on   /   in Special Report 1:01 am   /   Comments

BY CHARLES ADINGUPU
The general challenge experienced by virtually  all states in the federation remains the undaunted task of how best to tackle security.

In the deep caves of the South East, kidnappers and ritualists hold sway, in the arid savannah of the north, the dreaded terrorist group, otherwise known as Boko Haram operates with reckless brutality, but in the valley of the Niger Delta, kidnappers and political gangsterism threatened the existence of once a happy people.

Yet in the sprawling cities of the south West, armed robbers seemed to be in control. In the middle of all these, the commercial motorcycle operators popularly known as okada riders have been fingered as a major contributor to these calamities.

Against this backdrop, governors of different states restricted the operations of commercial motorcycle operators by mere pronouncement apparently to checkmate the surging crime wave. Despite the essential services that okada riders provide, they remain the most abused.

The cab drivers swear at them, the politicians see them as cannon fodder to be used during political campaigns, and eventually dumped afterwards.

Yet, provision of motorcycles to the teeming unemployed youths has become the only sure way of tackling poverty among Nigerians. In the same way, car owners see okada operators as nuisance.

Despite these bone deep resentments, the okada riders still operate under the merciless whip of fate, a long lamentation of the persecuted placed on the edge of the abyss.

Lagos,  newly admitted into the club of bourgeoisie cities made a law to restrict okada riders from plying highways.

The dust generated by the emergence of this law is yet to settle in the public domain. For most Lagosians, it was a calculated attempt by the Lagos State government to wipe away the average man from existence. Yet for others, it will create sanity on the ever busy Lagos roads, particularly putting to check the ubiquitous traffic congestion.

Since the enforcement of the controversial law barely a week ago, not less than ten thousand motorcycles had been impounded with over three thousand or more of them destroyed by the Lagos State  government for flouting the rules.

Additionally, a proportionate number of okada riders while trying to escape arrest were injured and later hospitalised at different hospitals in the city.

Every passing day, large number of commuters were seen stranded at different bus-stops in Lagos. The lingering fuel crisis appears to further compound the transport crisis in Lagos.

All these state one fact, that the transport system in the emerging mega city has collapsed. Hence, the okada riders still operate with temerity under the watchful eye of task force officials who combed the streets of Lagos for okada riders like a praetorian guard.

For most Lagos residents the bag of ironies behind this law, need much to be desired. For them, the government appeared to be speaking with both sides of its month.

Government cannot be bogged down by the problem of provision of employment for its teeming idled youths, at the same time, gradually banning the operations of commercial motorcycle.

The multiplying effects of the enforcement of this law cannot be over-emphasised. There are many Nigerians benefiting from the operations of okada riders apart from the commuters.

No doubt, motorcycle mechanics will suffer poor patronage, the over 300,000 youths employed by the nine commercial motorcycle  associations in Lagos to sell tickets will surely be thrown out of job as well as the vulcanizers.

Others also posited that if Lagos must attain its mega city status, then provisions must be made for commercial motorcycle operators on the highways same as the BRT lane.

In developed countries, this had been the rule rather than the exception where even pedestrian walk ways and bicycle lane were provided.

    Print       Email