AMAECHI: RECONSIDER BAN ON OKADA
By Etukudo Sampson Akanimo
THERE is no doubt that the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is doing a good job in Rivers State as the state governor. Although he appears to be surrounded by elements who most of the citizens perceive as anti-people, however, being faced with lots of distractions such as the pending election tribuna cases, (E.F.C.C )Economic and Financial Crimes Commission harassment, fighting militancy, crime, and battling with development of the state, restoring it back to being the ‘Garden City’ of old.
In his quest for development and crime fighting, he proposed a ban on all commercial motor cyclists popularly called ‘Okada’ from operating in the state beginning from 31 December 2008. Earlier this year, the state government barred Okada men from operating on highways, and stopped them from working later than 6:30pm.It is therefore obvious that his Excellency who is supposed to be the people’s governor is now the poormans terror, because he might feel the okada men are miscreants, criminals, and never do wells. With the latest development, what hope is there for the common man whose income comes from ‘okada-riding’, from my own point of reasoning, the state should get set for higher level of unemployment, crime-kidnapping, militancy, and traffic congestion and other vices.
All those whose means of generating income for themselves and families through okada riding may be shown the way out of the state or go into crime in other to make ends meet. Commuters will also feel the heat as most business organizations resume for the day’s job by 8:30-those coming from the Oyigbo and Eleme axis will have to beat the serious traffic jam at the ever busy Eleme junction and Aba road in order to get to their respective offices and business organizations using cabs and commercial buses. Even the state government owned busses are not helping matters because they are ‘too slow’ regardless of their cheap fares. The taxis and buses only stop at designated bus stops and the y do not go into the streets which the okadas do.
To a great extent, the commercial motor cyclist have helped in fighting crime-armed robbery, even though some criminals use it as a means of snatching, stealing, assassination, kidnapping. The okada men ambushed a gang of fleeing criminals four weeks ago around elelenwo and handed them over to the police, these act of bravery and gallantry have been displayed in so many occasion; In the name of modernization and development of the state, the common man and low-income earners who benefit from okada riding will have his future in doubt.
Furthermore, the Local Government Councils and some organized interest groups generate revenue through purchasing of operational stickers and daily tickets-Assuming a ticket is sold for N100 and there are 1000 Okada men in a local government area, such councils tend to rake in N100,000.00. On a monthly basis, that amounts to N3,000,000.00, and N36,000,000.00 a year. With this development, Vision 2020 and Millennium Development Goals (M.D.G) may become a pregnancy conceived and aborted which can end up being another mirage
Flushing out commercial motor cyclist in Rivers state cannot totally eradicate crime and criminal activities in the state, but worsen the situation.
Finally, I appeal to the Rt honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, members of the state executive council to think twice before formally imposing the ban on ‘Okada business’. ENDS
*Akanimo wrote in from Port Harcourt