By Grace Alegba/Dele Eniola
Nigerians have continued to express their views on the Federal Government’s consideration of a possible restriction on use of commercial motorcycles.
The Federal Government had announced that it was considering a ban on the motorcycles as part of its strategy to cripple terrorists’ activities in the country.
The government proposal was part of the outcome of the National Security Council meeting at the State House in Abuja on July 21.
It said that investigations were ongoing especially to establish the link between mining and motorcycles which they suspect provide funding for the supply of arms to the terrorists.
The government hinged its action on the need to guarantee the country’s security, but said it was not unaware of the economic consequences of the proposed resolutions, particularly the motorcycle ban.
Restriction of operations of commercial motorcyclists has been undertaken at state government levels in some parts of the country.
Presently in Lagos, the state government has banned operations of commercial motorcycles in several parts of the state.
The Lagos ban, which took effect on June 1, was also based on security concerns and was a strengthening of an earlier restriction of their operations in parts of the state.
Mr Adenuga Opanuga, Chairman, Lagos Branch, Nigerian Institution of Highway and Transportation Engineers (NIHTE) said that commercial motorcycles, though filling some gaps, had brought in several hazards.
Opanuga supported the Federal Government’s proposal on the motorcycles, but said there should be alternatives to minimise the effect on ordinary people using it to make ends meet.
He said that commercial motorcycles, popularly referred to as Okada, gradually gained acceptance as a result of inadequate transport facilities and lack of road infrastructure to link new settlements and hinterlands.
Opanuga said the easy accessibility to terrains that buses and other vehicles could not reach increased their use for movement as well as easy get away from gridlock.
The chairman said the nation’s dwindling economy and power challenges contributed to their popularity and acceptability.
Opanuga said the negative consequences of the motorcycles suddenly “crept in unannounced” outweighing the advantages.
He said they became perfect tools for high rates of crime and criminality including robbery, kidnapping, insecurity, ritual killings, influx of criminal foreigners, among others.
He said the recklessness of the riders and disobedience to traffic and social rules increased fatal road accidents and injuries, while making the roads unsafe for other users.
Opanuga said the proposal on the ban was in order, as the riders had become a burden on the nation.
“But, before the government takes action, they also have a role to play in terms of making the economy conducive for people that want to do other skillful work.
“If the light is stable, a lot of skillful workers will go back to their workshops. The artisans, hairdressers, mechanics, and the others will all go back.
“It is like a two-edged sword; while the government is thinking of ban, they should also be thinking of the enabling environment for people to work.
“They should also make sure that there is enough publicity and understanding of what the government wants to do.
“We cannot say all of them are totally bad but many are using an undue advantage of the flexibility of riding Okada to do evil and harm.
“And so, we will support the ban, but at the same time, the government should look inward to make sure that other areas are open for the people to exploit,” he said.
Chief Bolanle Akinyemi, the Akinrogun of Iwaya land, advised the Federal Government to resolve insecurity by tracking and applying sanctions against sponsors of terrorism in the nation.
He said that this would cut off funding for insurgents and curb their menace.
The chief said a ban on commercial motorcycles, good as the motive might be, would increase hardship and poverty.
“Banning of the okada would cut off the supply of logistics and source of funds to the terrorists, but in the grand scheme of things, it would have a long lasting effect to the populace.
“Banning Okada would have a negative effect on the economy as it would add to the hardship of the people and always add to poverty in the nation,” he said.
Akinyemi urged the government to create jobs and increase funding to the education sector to tackle poverty to stem crime rates.
Mr Fatai Igho, a commercial bus driver who plies the Sabo-Yaba to Iyana Ipaja recalled how he was almost lynched by motorcycle riders.
He appealed to the government to carry out the proposal, to safeguard lives and property.
Igho said “they act as lords of the road and ride recklessly, if you hit them, it is trouble, if they hit you, they will still gather to attack the innocent driver”.
However, Mr Chuks Akaeze, a commercial motorcycle operator in Agege, urged the government to use technology to fish out insurgents hiding in bushes and using motorcycles negatively.
Akaeze said those using motorcycles for legitimate business to cater for their families should, however, not be made to suffer for the sins of criminals.
He.appealed to the government to regulate them by adopting a database and expelling those that refuse to belong to unions.
Mrs Busola Lawal, a resident of Sogunle, and Mr Folabi Ogundipe, residing in Ogudu area of Lagos, also expressed their views on the proposal.
They both argued that if the proposal was for a total ban of commercial motorcycles, it would have a negative impact on the transportation system.(NAN)