• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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BusinessDay

Transport fare spikes in Delta as government bans ‘Okada’

We’ll think of best solution to mass transportation in Delta

…Residents groan as bus drivers, keke riders smile to bank

Delta residents affected by government’s ban on motorcycle as means of transportation, are in confusion and pain as they spend exorbitantly on transport, swelling the pockets of tricycle (Keke) operators/riders and commercial bus drivers who are now smiling to the bank.

They are confused because two weeks into the ban, they are yet to see action to prove that the ban is in the interest of the citizens as claimed by the government.

While some of those not affected are happy with the ban, the okada riders and residents who rely on their services daily, are not.

Eight out of 25 local government areas of the state are affected by the ban.

The 8 LGAs are Oshimili South, Oshimili North, Ika North East, Ika South, Ethiope East, Sapele, Uvwie and Warri North and these are LGAs worst hit by criminal activities traced to Okada riders though not every resident depend on Okada. If you live in streets away from tarred roads, you depend on Okada.

Those who seem to be hard hit by the ban are in the cities like Asaba metropolis which is the state capital.

Eunice Diribe, a petty trader who purchase foodstuff from Otulu Market and sell at her shop in Oduke, near Bonsaac, Asaba, Oshimili South LGA, told BusinessDay, “The best thing to do is not to ban Okada.”

According to her, “Government knows that most of our roads are terribly bad and it is Okada that conveys us to and from our residents. Keke only stops at major streets that are tarred.

“Today (Friday), I’ve gone to Otulu Market. From Jemok Junction, I chartered a keke. The things I bought were few because I had no adequate fund to buy the items like garri and other food items I needed. So, boarding Okada with N300 could have been better for me than the N1,000 I paid for Keke.

The ban has seriously affected us as it has also made our goods to be more expensive and what this means is that we lose our customers when they can’t afford to buy at exorbitant rate.”

According to her, Keke as the means of transport does not also guarantee a crime-free state because criminals also commit crimes with Keke. Few days ago, there was this incident of Keke rider disappearing with four stolen children.

“If however, the state governor thinks that lesser crimes are committed with Keke, he should have first rolled out tricycles for okada riders to switch to rather than throwing them out of business first and also bringing suffering on us,” she said.

Continuing, she said: “They said that the ban is in the interest of the residents and I am saying that the ban is affecting us negatively. They should also remember that these ones have families to fend for and if there is not serious intervention for them, some innocent ones may end up committing the crime because of hunger.”

Said Julius Ephraim who operates a Canteen, said, “You can see that there is no business. Those who used to patronise me have been banned from operation. I advise the state government to lift this ban to save us from having a more criminal state.

Another resident from Ibuza Community in Oshimili North LGA, said that it is even horrible for them because the Keke that are operating in the area are given 10pm to close work or be arrested.

However, Goodluck, a barber simply believes that it is better to ban Okada riders because of the manner they go about. Majority of them are from a part of the country known with violence and that is what they are exhibiting here, he said. “They bring out their danger at slightest provocation. If government don’t deal with them now, they would overtake the state.”

Edith Ukwuoma, a businesswoman in Asaba, however said she is in no way affected by the ban but want government to do the right thing for the citizens to be happy living in the state and doing business.

Some Keke riders are happy because the ban has positioned them to be reaching the areas initially meant for Okada riders and are smiling to the bank.

“The ban has favoured us,” said Keke rider who introduced himself as Gerald. “At least, no day passes without me going home with N30,000 and above. I’m making use of this opportunity while it lasts,” he said as he smiled.

But Pascal Chimobo, another Keke rider said he is not happy at all despite making huge money daily following the ban.

“I would have preferred government to push the Okada riders inside the street so that they won’t come to the major roads. They make our work easier because they used to bring our passengers for us to carry. Now, the situation is forcing us to be plying those rough and flooded streets that Okada riders used to operate in. There is no job for us because we find it difficult to enter streets.

“The best thing is to get them registered for easy identification and restrict them to streets and not tarred roads,” he said.

Michael Ogbodo, a trader, advised the government to work towards putting effective transport system in the state especially for those living where roads aren’t motorable.

“You cannot satisfy everybody. What I know is that this policy has good side and we should see it that people will get used to it. Some of the affected riders may even graduate to shuttle bus and Keke owners/riders soonest,” Ogbodo said.

Ban excites Delta CP

Abaniwonda

Olufemi, the Delta State Commissioner of Police (CP), disclosed that he played a major role in getting the state government ban Okada and metal scavengers popularly known as “Iron Condemn” following the upsurge in crime traceable to them.

“Since the ban and the enforcement, there is a lot of down trend in crime across the state,” the CP stated.

“A lot of these ‘Okada’ people don’t even have registration number. Even when they commit a traffic offence, there is no way you can trace them.”

Govt’s solution to the ban

Last week, the government said it would invest heavily on road infrastructure to connect various towns, cities and communities.

The government said this would enable vehicles, keke and other means of transportation to convey passengers, goods and services without difficulties.

Latimore Oghenesivbe, chief executive officer of the state orientation bureau, made the disclosure last week during a radio programme in Asaba, the state capital.

“The ban on Okada as means of commercial transportation in Delta State is real, and has come to stay. And it is not directed at any tribe or ethnic nationality. The governor is detribalised.

“Governor Sheriff Oborevwori promised enhanced peace and security in his MORE Agenda, and he’s committed to protect life and property in compliance with constitutional provisions. The ban is essentially to upscale security measures in the state.

“The decision is for the best interest of the greater number of Deltans, and within a reasonable time, government will provide alternative means of transportation, to ease stress currently experienced by commuters in the affected eight local government areas in the state,” Oghenesivbe assured.

He said that the ban was in tandem with constitutional provisions mandating governments at state and federal levels to protect life and property.

He revealed that Sheriff Oborevwori, the state governor, was reluctant to support the ban on commercial motorcycles but that the rising wave of criminal activities linked to majority of Okada riders in the state encouraged him to take the bull by the horn via the instrumentality of the state Regulation on Okada as means of commercial transportation.

Commissioner of Information reacts

Ifeanyi Osuoza in a radio programme, explained that government officials held several meetings with leaders of Okada Riders Association with the view to tackling the menace of criminal activities of some of their members, but that all efforts failed woefully, hence the outright ban of Okada for commercial transportation in the affected eight LGAs in the state.

He however, said that the ban does not affect use of motorbikes for corporate services; such as courier services and delivery of products ordered online, as well as security personnels on duty who sometimes use their personal motor bikes to get to their places of primary assignments, or for surveillance without using same for commercial activities while on mufti.

Conclusion

State government, its officials and security operatives say, “Yes” to the ban. Some residents say “Yes” because they want security but they are afraid that if government mismanages the situation, crime would increase in those areas.

The fear is worsened by the fact that security agencies may not be available when a criminal would attack in such ‘remote’ streets/areas, except residents would start arranging for special vigilantes if they must sleep with their two eyes closed.

Both those affected and those not affected are all looking forth to action from the state government to prove the ban is in truly in their interest.