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Mixed reactions trail Federal Government proposed ban on commercial motorcycles (OKADA) 

Nigerians from different walks of life in the South-East have expressed mixed feelings regarding Federal Government’s plan to ban commercial motorcycles, otherwise called “Okada”, in the country.

While some hailed the proposal, believing that it might help to curb the crime rate, others disapproved of it on the grounds of its negative economic implications.

In Abia, proponents of the ban argued that commercial motorcycles had become ready tools for robbery, banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes in the country.

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A businessman, Mr Kingsley Madu, said that he had long expected the ban, given the spate of criminal activities that were executed with motorcycles in different parts of the country.

Madu said:

“Most criminals and kidnappers hide under the guise of commercial motorcyclists to kill and dispossess their victims of their valuables.”

A seamstress, Mrs Faith Ugwu, said that a lot of criminals use motorcycles to perpetuate criminality due to bad roads, especially in rural communities.

“I think kidnapping and robbery are on the increase because the perpetrators use motorcycles for their operations.

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However, those who are opposed to the idea, urged the government to jettison the plan because of its dire consequences on the nation’s prostrate economy.

An undergraduate, Mr Felix Nwankwo, feared that the plan could boomerang, if implemented.

“There is already a high rate of unemployment in the country, so banning okada would worsen the situation.

“This will also worsen crime and criminality that the policy intends to checkmate.

“Although there are bad eggs among the operators, it is not enough reason for a blanket ban across the country,” Nwankwo said.

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He argued that there were many responsible men, who entered the business as their only means of livelihood.

A commercial bus driver, Mr Anthony Onyeizu, dismissed the plan, saying that it would be counterproductive.

Onyeizu said that the ban would create more problems in the transport sector, if enforced.

“Are commercial motorcyclists our problem as a country at this time, when people are being killed everyday like animals?

“Commercial motorcycles remain the major, and in some cases, the only means of transportation in most of our rural communities.

“So banning it would make life more difficult, especially in communities with deplorable road conditions,” Onyeizu said.

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Also in Imo, an entrepreneur, Chief Evaristus Nkwocha, said that the policy would be detrimental to the nation’s economy.

Nkwocha, who deals in hire purchase for motorcycles in Owerri, said that “many unemployed persons, including graduates, depend on commercial motorcycles for their livelihood” because of the high unemployment rate.

“The ban will affect not only the operators but spare parts dealers and motorcycles repairers.

“Commercial motorcycles have always been there and we cannot just wake up and accuse the users of masterminding insecurity,” he said.

He argued that crime was also prevalent in cities where commercial motorcycles were not operational.

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“Most of those who get our facility are unemployed graduates, who have no criminal records,” Nkwocha said.

Dr Fabian Odunka of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, said that rather than the ban, government should encourage the study of automobile engineering to stimulate students’ interest in the manufacturing of automobiles.

This, he said,

“The ban would help to strengthen the economy and enhance the nation’s foreign exchange earnings through export.”

Odunka further said that automobile entrepreneurs, such as Innoson Vehicle Manufacturers and Kotec motorcycle parts manufacturers, should be supported rather than discouraged in their efforts to grow the nation’s economy.

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Written by Ruth Semilore

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