•10,000 on verge of losing source of livelihood
Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
The ban on commercial motorbike in Awka and Onitsha from July 1, by the Anambra State government, may put over 10, 000 youths out of job.
Government had, through a press statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. James Eze, given commercial motorbike (Okada) operators in the two major cities of the state until July 1, 2018, to change to another trades or vacate the cities for good.
The statement said the ultimatum given to Okada operators in the two cities was part of the strategies adopted by the state government to deepen its crackdown on crime and restore sanity to Onitsha and Awka.
Reacting yesterday, Awka South Zonal leader of Motorcycle Transport Union of Nigeria, Kingsley Nworah, told newsmen that they are displeased over government’s decision, as they were taken unawares by the ban.
The association, he said, has over 10,000 members, in Awka and Onitsha alone, and lamented that they would be thrown out of business into the streets, should government implement its decision.
Most of them, he said, are bread winners in their families and wondered what would become the fate of their wives and children if they are relieved of their jobs.
“We are not less than 10,000 members in Onitsha alone, and our families depend on many of us for their upkeep. Many of us are into monthly contributions. Some acquired their motorcycles through the contributions, while some are waiting for their turns. Tell me, what their fate becomes?”
The zonal leader admitted that certain criminal activities are perpetrated with the assistance of motorcycles, but maintained that outright ban of commercial motorcycle operation is not the solution.
“Is it only Okada that is used to commit crimes? Haven’t they seen where cars, especially jeep were used in robbery operations? Will they now ban use of cars because of that?
“Besides, we have always cautioned our members against getting involved in criminal activities, while we penalise erring ones as a deterrent to others.”
Nworah disclosed that the union’s monthly contribution to the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is not less than N1 million, stressing that they had never faulted.
“During the campaign period of the last governorship election, the governor promised not to ban Okada in the state, and to reciprocate the gesture, we encouraged our members to vote and they voted massively for him.”
He appealed to the governor to reconsider its decision or extend the deadline till December in order for them to look for alternative businesses.