By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Ahead of the commencement of total enforcement ban on activities of commercial motorcyclists, popularly called, “Okada” and tricyclists, “Keke NAPEP” commencing, February 1st, some operators, on Friday, led a peaceful protest to the state government in Alausa, seeking a rethink on the ban.
Recall that the state government had last Monday, announced plans to commence total enforcement of Reform Traffic Law of 2018 on activities of motorcyclists, popularly called “Okada” and tricycles, called “Keke Marwa” on restricted routes and bridges across 15 Local Government Areas of the state.
The operators, numbering hundreds, who are Gokada, “Oride, and “Max” commercial motorcycles, stormed Alausa about 10 am, and headed straight to the State House of Assembly, accusing the state government of being insensitive to their plight.
The irate operators demanded that rather than ban them the state government should regulate their operations as many of them depends on it for their livelihood.
A representative of the protesters, Steve Orajiakwu of O ride said they were not consulted before the ban was announced by the state government.
“We are not happy with the way the ban was done. We are running a democratic government and when decisions that concern the lives of people are to be made by the government, the people should be consulted.
Whatever the government did is not good for us. We were never invited to debate. We know the government is concerned about the security and lives of people as well as the influx of some people from certain regions of the country.
“But we are professionals. Our bikes have tracking devices and cameras. We went for blood and eye test. We went for intensive training. Government should call us and see possibility of regulating us,” he lamented
Also bemoaning the development, Uche Ekemiri of Gokada said: ” We pay tax to the government and we are ready to have a license. Government just woke up one day and ban us and I don’t see reasons they should ban us. This is what we do for a living.”
While attending to the protesters, a member of the assembly, Bisi Yusuff, representing Alimosho Constituency 1, who spoke on behalf of the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, commended the protesters for peaceful demonstration but urged them to abide with the new ban pending when the state government will decide on their request.
“Protest is an ingredient of democracy. We commend you for a peaceful demonstration. We will go through your petition.
“However we urge you to keep cool and keep to the law until we call you back. The government has made the pronouncement on the issue. Don’t allow anybody to hijack the protest because you will be held responsible for it.
Very soon, we will call you. Maintain the law. It is when the government sees your conduct, they will know what to do,” he said.