BY SIMON EBEGBULEM
BENIN CITY — AS the ban on commercial motorcycle riders, popular known as Okada, by the Edo State government commenced, yesterday, residents of Egor, Oredo and Ikpoba Okhai Local Government Councils have resorted to purchasing bicycles as alternative means of transportation.
The transportation problem in the areas worsened after Governor Adams Oshiomhole also banned the use of tricycles (Keke Napep) in the city, declaring that it was not an alternative to Okada.
However, the ban has inflicted hardship on the residents because there are lots of areas where commercial buses do not ply. As a result, Vanguard observed that residents have resorted to buying bicycles.
Vanguard observed that the cost of bicycles has skyrocketed from N18,000 to N30,000, while motorcycles are now being sold for as low as N10,000 and N12,000.
It was observed that the Hausa and the Chadians who are more into the Okada business, are selling their motorcycles at give away prices and going back to their respective states in the North.
Governor Oshiomhole who warned against flouting the laws, asserted that tricycles will not be allowed on highways in the state, even as he said the ban on motorcycles extends to Aduwawa which is Uhunmwode Local Government Area and Oluku and Ekosodin in Ovia North East Local Government Areas which are in the Benin metropolis.
The governor who disclosed this during a meeting with the leadership of the state Okada Riders’ Union at the Government House, said the state government has set up a committee to work out various schemes for the genuine Okada riders, including procuring vehicles.
“Okada riders who were banned from neighbouring states in the North, in the South-South and the South-West, found Edo as a safe haven and were all rushing here in droves. The result is that we now have all kinds of people masquerading as Okada riders. It has become extremely difficult to actually register genuine Okada riders who are in legitimate business.
“Even at this hour, I appreciate the fact that there are many bike riders who are doing very honest job and actually contributing to the social economic life of this state. I am never going to deny that they exist in good numbers.
“But unfortunately, it is also true that more and more people are hiding under bike riding to troop to the state, use the bike for few hours and then use the bike for all sorts of crime including rape, armed robbery, kidnapping, all kinds of things and every week I get reports during security meetings, I get detailed and graphical illustration of how, not just people using bike, but okada riders, some also taking to crime and of course they have not respected any of the things we have agreed to” he stated.