NIGERIA. Niger State: Since the ban, life has become unbearable for its citizens who feed through the means and the ordinary citizens who majorly depend on commercial motorcycles as their means of transportation.
Adamu (not his real name) is part of the adamant operators that keep jostling around the streets of Minna with their motorcycles.
His resistance to the government’s ban order was justified as he claims to have no means of livelihood and as such operating illegally became a norm.
Adamu, who is married with five kids and one wife, states that his wife and three other children have been sent to the village to stay with their grandparents until when the situation eases.
“I feed my family and send my children to school through the means of Okada riding but since the ban, I don’t have anything doing and my family and I are suffering”, he said.
A 50-year-old man who begged for anonymity said he has been riding Okada since he was a youth until presently when the state government put a stop to it.
He said in an unapologetic tone: “I still can’t stop it because that is my only means of earning.
“I have seven children, all are in school. One just got admission into the university this year and this is the only means I have to keep sponsoring them.
“How do I get money to pay the school fees of my children now if not through the Okada riding which the government said we should not do again?
“Still I operate from the junction but sometimes the taskforce will chase us, collect our bikes which we have to pay, but I’m lucky they have not seized my bike since I have been operating in hiding”.
One of the top officials of Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Riders Association of Nigeria, Niger state branch, (ACOMORAN), in Chanchaga axis of Minna, confessed that he often joins the members to take commuters to their destination. “This I do to earn a living”, he said.
He added, “We were not formally informed about the ban, even our topmost union leaders didn’t inform us, let alone of the government. I woke up to the news and it hasn’t been easy for us since then.
“I know about some of our members who have divorced their wives in this period because the means of their earning is no longer there. Some are in critical condition about their health because of the way the task force maltreated them. The government needs to do something to cushion our hardship.
The government meant had promised to provide tricycles for us on a loan basis but it has been about three months now and nothing has been done about it”.
Another motorcycle rider in Bosso local government area of the state said he continues to ride despite the ban in order to survive has this to say.
“The bike I am riding now and even before is not mine. I took out a loan and I pay the owner daily. Before the ban on motorcycles, I used to pay N3,000 to N4,000 daily but now I barely have N1,500 after using my motorcycle for a day. How will I pay the owner of the bike and feed? pay house rent and also pay the hospital bill for my new clear family?
“My friend’s motorcycle has been seized by their owners who can’t endure it, some have sent their wives to the village because they can’t afford house rent, thank God I have an understandable Oga”.
Commuters narrating there ordeal
A Passenger, Hajiya Hadiza in Chanchaga local government laments that the hardship due to the stoppage of motorcycles in the state is unbearable.
“I am a widow, I have nothing doing and my children have been helping me through driving of motorcycle, but now that government has put a stop to it we are suffering to even have a square meal a day”
Another commuter, Jude Okafor and a resident of Chanchaga who is a College student said it has not been easy for him as he now spent triple of what he used to spend before when the Okada was not banned.
“Before the ban, I use to spend N80 to N100 but now I spend more than that because I have to take a bike to the junction of my house before taking a tricycle to wherever I am doing, it is sad that the government, who is supposed to provide for us, is inflicting hardship on the masses this way”.
In a related development, a resident of Bosso local government area of the state, Mohammed Bello said due to his health conditions, he has to vacate Minna because of the hardship of looking for what will take one to wherever the person wants to go has become unbearable to him.
“My health conditions could not allow me to trek long distances, and in Minna now if you are not mobile you will suffer and before getting to where you are going because the tricycles that are permitted to work are not much and can not go inside where people are residents”, he said.
A Civil Servant, Jibrin Jiya (not his real name) said he has to go to work late sometimes because there is no tricycle available until he treks a long-distance first.
The hardship affects every sector, but the government itself because motorcycle riders add hugely to the revenue generation of the state.
Officials of ACOMORAN
The State Chairman of Amalgamated commercial Motorcycle owners and riders Association of Nigeria, Niger state branch(ACOMORAN), Comrade Shafi’i Ladan, said at first, the government didn’t involve the union in their decision making to stop commercial motorcycle riding in the state but since then the union and government have concluded imposed total banned in the state which by now our members should be fully aware.
“They also promised us a package by providing our members with tricycles on loan bases to cushion their hardship. But as we are now nothing has been done and I believe that the government is a gradual process and they will surely help us, the chairman said.
Ladan nevertheless attributed the ban to help in reducing criminality and insecurity in the state.
“Anybody doing using commercial motorcycles even at the junction by now is doing it at his own risk because I am sure they are aware of the new law by the state government which they are supposed to obey”, Ladan said.
” I am not ready for any discussion or press release now as the ban of Okada has taken effect”, Ladan told Transcontinental Times.
It was gathered that Transcontinental Times gathered that an official of the Vehicle Inspection Officer (VIO) fell from the vehicle of the joint task force when they were chasing the motorcycle riders in Chanchaga local government area. He was confirmed dead the next day.
Ministry of Transport
Given the ban on the operations of commercial motorcycles in Minna metropolis, Niger state Ministry of Transport under the leadership of the Commissioner of Transport, Rahmatu Mohammed Yar’adua, directed the deployment of buses for township services at a subsidized rate. The deployment of buses was supposed to commence on Saturday 5th May.
However, when Transcontinental Times went around Minna metropolis, there was no sign of government vehicles packed or conveying passengers.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ibrahim Garba Musa explained that government policy is a gradual process assuring the people of the supply of the tricycles soonest.
Speaking on the attitude of the taskforce officials, the Permanent Secretary said the task force is put in place to make sure the right thing is done by the citizens to abide by government law and order.