The ban on commercial motorcycle operations in Kubwa town in the Federal Capital Territory FCT came under total defiance in the aftermath of the #endSARS protest, which saw a relax in enforcement by security agencies in the area, just as everywhere else in the country.
Hitherto, it used to be a cat and mouse race between the police and operators on a daily basis.
An okada rider in Kubwa, Ibrahim Auwal, said in the aftermaths of the ban, any member arrested by the police would cough out about N5000 to get his motorcycle back, and if it is impounded and kept at the station, the operator would part with nothing less than N10,000 before getting his motorcycle back. He could lose it, at worst.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the joint security taskforce set up by the FCT authorities raids some junctions along the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway, from time to time, and seize motorcycles whose owners defy the ban. Those motorcycles, alongside those moped up from police divisions in areas under ban, are first taken to the VIO warehouse in the city centre, before the main one in Gosa community, along the Abuja Airport Road, where they are officially destroyed or auctioned, illegally.
Following the #endSARS protest, some okada riders who migrated to other communities within the FCT, found their way back to Kubwa streets, with hundreds of others trooping back from their states of origin, mostly the Northwest zone.
Most Kubwa residents who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday said they find motorcycles as a first choice over the tricycle, which has officially been allowed to operate.
A resident John Daniel said this is because they charge lower fares, as well as extend their services to every nook and cranny, when compared with the keke (tricycle). He also said the return of okada services in the satellite town has dealt a blow to the alleged exploitation by tricycle operators, leading to crash in tricycle transport fare.
Mrs Aisha Ibrahim, a private school teacher, said the operation of okada is a sort of relief for both pupils and teachers because Kubwa town doesn’t have a structured means of transportation made available by the government, and wondered why the same government would ban them in the first place.
Augustine Benjamin, who also resides in the area, said though he doesn’t support the ban, as that would render lots of people jobless, he however called on the authorities to intensify their crackdown on the operators around entry points of the town, especially along the expressway. “That should also extend to the roadside trading around the corridors who occupy the single roads there,” said Mr. Benjamin.
He said it is usually very difficult for motorists to get to the expressway during the morning rush hours, vis a vis getting into the town in the evenings at the close of work.
It was gathered that commercial motorcyclists now operate freely within Kubwa town with no arrests by the police or joint taskforce. The only area they face arrest is along the expressway, while trying to either pick or drop a passenger.
The joint task force team sometimes lay ambush against violators from Dutsen-Alhaji Junction, down to Deidei Junction along the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway.
Tajuddeen Liman is the leader of the joint association of the commercial motorcycles and tricycle operators in Kubwa. Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday on their operations in the area, Liman recalled that the federal government once declared that there would be no ban against their operation, but rather it would create jobs that would make their members to leave the business. He revealed that most of them operate commercial motorcycle as a last resort, having lost their means of livelihood in their home states due to rising insecurity challenges.
Responding to his members operating on the expressway, the okada leader described the violators as defiant members who needs to be dealt with.
Let okada operation be regulated, not banned – Comrade Dantata
A security analyst, Comrade Salihu Dantata Mahmud, said the operation of commercial motorcyclists should rather be regulated than ultimately banned in the FCT suburbs. He said while it is good to ban the operation on one hand, the government should look into the plight of people on the other hand, as “all hands are not equal.”
“A large number of citizens depend on this alternative means of transport to move from one place to another. And for some of the operators who do not have any other means of survival, they could go into crime. So, government should regulate the business as has been done in countries like India and China who are more advanced in development with more population than Nigeria.
“The total ban would definitely lead to more hardship, and everyone knows the consequences if the government insists on that,” Dantata said.
He equally called on the government to enhance the operations of the nation’s security agencies by providing them with available logistics and technological gadgets, while tasking the security on their parts to utilise the synergy and collaboration among them.