Monday, June 24, 2013

Okada ban: Auchi residents fear possible spillover effect

Auchi (Edo) -  Residents of Auchi and its environs in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo have said that the ban on commercial motorcycle in Benin metropolis could pose a security challenge to other parts of the state.

The residents, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at Auchi, lamented that with the ban, the motorcycle (okada) operators would find a safe haven in other urban centres such as Auchi, Ekpoma and Uromi.
They noted that unless urgent and alternative sources of income were made available to the displaced okada riders by the government, the crime rates in these areas would increase.
It will be recalled that the Edo government last week banned the operation of private and commercial motorcycle in Benin metropolis.
The governor said that the ban, which took effect from June 17, was necessitated by security challenges.
Reacting to the ban, Prof. Ben Egede, a resident, said the ban was too hasty,stressing that an alternative arrangement should have been worked out before placing the ban.
“Judging by the enormous weight of hardship the ban would inflict on the masses, one will be forced to say it is a bad policy; but if one considers it from the angle of security reasons, then the policy will be described as timely.
What we are saying, however, is that palliative measures ought to have been provided before coming out with the policy,” he said.
Another resident, Mr George Okosun, condemned the ban, saying the hardship on the people would be enormous.
He said that the policy amounted to chasing shadows if the evil was chased out of Benin, it would end up in places like Auchi, Ekpoma and Uromi.
“If you give the reason for the ban as security problem, and the okada riders end up in places like Auchi, you have not succeeded in achieving whatever reason for the ban in the first place.
“I think what government has succeeded in doing is chasing these people (okada riders) from Benin to Auchi and other areas; this will pose serious challenges in these areas.
Mr Bartholomew Edigan, also a resident, said the ban was long overdue “considering the nuisance the commercial motor cyclists constituted’’.
Edigan, however, frowned at the ban placed on private motorcyclists.
“I really applaud government for the boldness because okada has not only been used in perpetuating crime, it has also constituted a nuisance on our roads.
“A lot of persons have ended up in hospital beds as a result of the nuisance ofthe riders. I think the government has done well to ban them.
“But, I am, however, not comfortable with the ban being extended to the private motor cyclists. These people use theirs to transport themselves to offices.
“I have a friend in Benin who bought his with a loan from a bank for the purpose of riding to work. The government should be magnanimous and look at it (ban) again from this angle,” he said.
Mr Paul Onosuru, another resident, said the ban would have been appreciated if palliative measure were put in place for the displaced okada riders and the people that were using the service.
“As it stands, it has placed serious hardship on the people, especially the commuters.
“Even the riders themselves will be a problem to the society as their means of livelihood have been taken from them.
“Government must work out urgent solution to forestall any possible security challenge the action will pose,’’ Onosuru said.
However, Mr David Jimwang, the police officer in charge of Edo North Area Command of the Nigeria Police, has assured the people that the ban would not pose any security challenge to the area.
He said that a strategy was being worked out to arrest any security challenges that would arise in Auchi and its environs as a result of the ban.
According to him, the police and the local government authority are working together and a by-law that will regulate the activities of commercialmotorcyclists in the area will be out soon.
“I really do not foresee any danger as a result of the ban; even if any will arise, we are putting in place a strategy to curtail such,” he said. (NAN)

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