As a means of reducing incidents of road accidents in Nigeria, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has recommended a complete ban on commercial motorcycle operators (Okada), Punch writes.
This was contained in the October Road Traffic Crash Report 2016 which reveals that motorcycles accounted for 230 cases or 18 percent of a total of 1,259 vehicles involved in accidents within the month.
It further posited that motorcycle accidents ranked third after cars which accounted for 457 cases or 36 percent, followed by mini-buses with 243 or 19 percent of the total.
In his submission to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Corps Marshal, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, says commercial motorcycle activities remained a major cause of fatal road traffic accidents across the country, hence the need for a total ban on their operations.
“Following the outcome of the analysis, it could be concluded that motorcycle still constitutes serious menace on the nation’s highways.
“Accordingly, improved results could be achieved in the future, if more state governments could consider placing a ban on the use of motorcycles for commercial purposes.
“In view of the above, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation should facilitate and encourage state governments to ban the use of motorcycles for commercial purposes.’’
In 2014, the National Council on Transport recommended their ban nationwide “to ensure adequate provision of safe and secure means of transportation in the country’’.
According to reports, a number of states, including Abuja have since banned the operations of commercial motorcycles from major routes citing that they not only contribute to road accidents but are also a favourable medium of operation for armed robbers, kidnappers and other criminals.
Presently, Enugu and Lagos states have banned the operations of commercial motorcycles for over two years although the law isn’t fully complied with in most parts of the states.
I am neither for nor against the ban of Okada in Nigeria but before the FRCN press further to see to it that the ban is effected, it is important to note that the economic situation in Nigeria presently is not favourable to many people including the Okada riders.
Some involved in the Okada riding business are graduates who resorted to the trade/business because of unemployment as they wold rather do that than resort to criminal activities. They have families and relatives to take care of. So when they are forced out of business by the proposed ban, what would be their hope?
Rwandan President, Paul Kagame said some time ago:
“We have Okada too in Rwanda. It is a lucrative business. A good number of people are doing okada business in Rwanda. But their activities are well-regulated. There are rules and regulations that define the limit of their operation.
“We also organise them into groups, such as the association of owners and association of operators. The groups help in ensuring that the rules and regulations are duly observed. Because we have rules, institutions and structures in place, we do not have much problem with Okada operators.”
There goes a leader who understands the struggles of his countrymen. He has gone the extra mile to ensure he sustains the source of livelihood of commercial motorcycle operators in his country irrespective of their place on the rungs of the social ladder.
Forcing commercial motorcycle operators to find alternative means of livelihood in the Nigeria of today would be the height of insensitivity by the government to the plight of compatriots. If there were better options they wouldn’t be riding bikes in the first place.
It is a fallacy of hasty generalization, that all Okada riders are armed robbers, hence, responsible for the rise in crime rate and all accidents on Nigerian roads. We cannot absolve Okada riders from occasional robberies, but to put the blame on them squarely for all robbery incidents to warrant their ban is tantamount to giving a dog a bad name so it can be hanged.