The Federal Government said it is undecided about banning the operation of motorcycles, popularly called ‘okada’, as a form of commercial transportation in the country, just as it assured citizens of concrete plans to deploy a sustainable mass transit system that will not fail, but serve all Nigerians.
The Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye gave the assurance in Abuja while speaking at the annual strategic stakeholders summit of the Amalgamated Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners, Repairs and Riders Association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN) themed “Mutually Beneficial Integration of motorcycles and Tricycles into Public Transportation System in Nigeria: The Harmless Approach.
“The Federal Government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is also desirous of putting in place a mass transit system that will not fail like those of the past,” Adegoroye said. “It is true that several governments in the past have done one or two things to promote mass transit and ensure that our people can move from one place to the other seamlessly and easily but this administration will go further to deploy sustainable one.”
On the ban on motorcycles, Adegoroye informed that the Federal Government has not taken a concrete decision to ban the operation of motorcycles, popularly called ‘okada’, as a form of commercial transportation in the country.
“The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has not taken any decision on the ban of ‘Okada’. Let me assure you and assure ACOMORAN that there is no decision to ban ‘okada’.”
In his remarks, the chairman of the summit and former Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi charged ACOMORAN to regulate itself and conform to safety standards to guarantee being accommodated in the transportation system.
Also, he also stated that the stereotype that tricycles and motorcycles are bad can be corrected if their members are fully regulated and reoriented in terms of value addition to their operations.
Earlier in her keynote address, former permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Dr. Anthonia Ekpa advised that reconstruction of roads in the country should be given paramount attention since most people travel by road, adding that a seamless transportation database will be invaluable.
She further advised that a regulatory agency be created to digitalise and regulate the operations of motorcycles in Nigeria to ensure seamless operations.
“We should come together, put our heads and study the situation of other countries that have their transportation system working to enable our citizens and those legitimate in the business operate,” she said.
Ekpa also urged the Ministry of Transportation to provide regulation and policy framework, as the ministry that has the primary responsibility of policy formulation and implementation.
On his part, the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Land Transport, Hon. Tajudeen stated that the Legislature is ready to assist the association in making enabling laws that will provide adequate peace and security in the transport sub-sector. This, he said, is imperative for government to ensure that the lives and property of citizens are protected.
He further stated that motorcycles and tricycles have been hijacked by bandits to aid criminal activities. This menace has put fear in the minds of commuters and the general public. He, therefore, urged the association to identify such members and ensure they are prosecuted.
While acknowledging the importance of the operators as available statistics have shown that they have contributed immensely to the nation’s GDP, he called upon the association to ensure training and retraining of its members by the academia and security agencies.
Also, the lawmaker called on the association to have a database of all its members, as this will make monitoring their operations easier.
Earlier, the national president of ACOMORAN, Samsudeen Apelogun identified unemployment as one of the major factors that brought motorcycles and tricycles into the transportation system. Many of the raiders, he said, were graduates who took to the trade to make a living and improve their fortunes in a dwindling economy.
“It is an open discussion that our operations in a few states in the country are being restricted and riders’ motorcycles are confiscated and destroyed, which affects many innocent riders who took loans to buy motorbikes. These include young graduates who tried unsuccessfully to find gainful employment,” he said.
According to him, the government’s decision to ban ‘okada’ is hinged on two factors: accident and insecurity. He argued that, as an association, it responds by organising train-the-trainer workshops where members will be educated on operational safety.
“We have and will continue to appeal to the government at all levels to consider the interest of the generality of Nigerians, especially those at the lowest rung of the economic ladder, when formulating policies,” he reasoned.