We have people elected into positions who, instead of providing succour and addressing the needs that comes with their responsibilities, end up compounding the problem. You were elected into office, the only thing you can do is to rush to China to procure motorcycles for your people. Our lawmakers are notorious for this. They buy millions of bikes and gift them to their constituents as constituency largesse. Trust our youths, especially those in the north, they line up these bikes, load them into trails and off they zoom to Abuja and Lagos where life begins as okada men!
Besides adding to the chaotic situation of traffic, these guys are the most unruly folks on the road. They disobey traffic, throw tantrums and are quick to pour their vicious venom on other road users. Pray you never have an issue with these bike men, they can leave you carless or even lifeless in seconds. They cause damage to other road users with reckless indignation. An altercation with just one of them can attract 20 others who join viciously to lynch you to your end and have your car burnt. After the bandits, okada men are the next most dangerous people in Nigeria. If left unregulated, they have the defining tendency of bringing society to its knees.
These men on motorcycles also add to crimes in our major cities. Because of the ease of navigation, they use their bikes to commit crimes and disappear into oblivion. We have seen them manifest as dangerous catalyst to increasing rate of crimes in Nigeria.
In Garki, Abuja, before motorcycle operators we’re banned in the FCT, I witnessed a bizarre incident where police were on the heels of alleged armed robbers who were driving a bus. The police succeeded in demobilising the moving vehicle as they closed down on the criminals. From nowhere, two bike men entered the scene and like in a dramatic movie – like situation, the men on the bike ended up riding away with the bad guys and the police lost the thieves no thanks to the aided audacity of the men on motorcycle. Crime without doubt is aided by some men who disguise as okada riders.
Most road traffic accidents caused by the men on bikes, they don’t also endanger others’ lives, they add to the burden of healthcare as hospital wards are always occupied by accident victims, thus stretching facilities and the likes.
According a Vanguard report, the security threat posed by some of these riders cannot be overlooked. Lagos, with an estimated population of 24 million and due to its economic and socio-political importance in the country, keeps attracting migration of people and this has given the state its fair share of security challenges.
For instance, most commercial motorcycle riders whose operations were banned in other states, found their way to Lagos. Among them are those with sinister motive under the guise of looking for better living condition.
Unfortunately, not many Lagosians are alive to witness this ban as they were sent to unprepared graves in accidents either while on motorcycles, or while standing at bus-stops waiting to board buses to their respective destinations.
Statistics show that between 2016 and 2019, more than 10,000 motorcycle accidents were recorded at the general hospitals alone. This number excludes unreported cases and those recorded by private hospitals. Also, 600 deaths resulting from these incidents according to the Lagos State government were recorded till date.
We must applaud the Lagos State governor for showing courage, the men on bikes are a big threat to road users, they need not exist as the main means of transportation. Same thing should be enforced in the FCT especially by owners of courier services and food vendors who use motorcycles to run their services. These dispatch riders are reckless, they do not obey traffic signs and also litter the city in ugly grotesque.
Politicians should think outside the box and stop buying motorcycles for our youths. You are dismembering their bodies, altering their lives and making them lazier. Okada is not a trade, lets engage our young people to learn to do something meaningful. Our politicians and indeed governments looking for easy way out in the name of poverty alleviation thus, creating more complex problem must look beyond this short time respite.
Until we stretch ourselves to figure out how best to touch lives in an impactful way, this okada conundrum will continue to be the norm during electioneering conquests after which they are converted into a commercial means of transportation thus creating nuisance, increasing fatality rates, more crime and overstretching health facilities.
Respect to leadership.ng