From Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan
Following the resolve to lift ban on Okada in Oyo State, government in conjunction with road safety stakeholders organized sensitization and safety awareness for commercial motorcyclist otherwise known as Okada riders to educate them from constituting nuisance in the society.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi said government was not ready to ban Okada riders rather, the government was only planning to regulate and control activities of Okada riders so as to bring sanity to their operation.
Speaking during the sensitization Ajimobi through his Special Adviser on Community Relations, Alhaji Abidemi Siyanbade, the governor said Okada riders have become menace to the society by inflicting needless and avoidable carnage on the society: “It is against this backdrop the meeting was called to sensitize and educate the Okada riders in the state on the need to make safety their watchword.”
He added that government decided to invite major stakeholders on how to address the problem frontally to reduce to the barest minimum, the unavoidable deaths and injuries on roads due to the recklessness of the Okada riders: “Most Okada riders are not patient.
They ride Okada as if they are the only people using the road and care less about road safety laws to use helmets at all times.
Another nuisance constitutes by the Okada riders according to him, is anytime there’s accident involving one of them, whether they are guilty or not, they will solidarise with their colleagues to harass and threaten other road users.”
Other anomalies, according to the governor, include criminality of using Okada to rob unsuspecting members of the public and kidnapping activities: “Oyo State Government does not intend to ban okada riders but we are charged with the responsibility to protect the lives of our citizenry and that is why we need to partner with law enforcement agencies to enforce the usage of helmet. They must be cautious on the highway and must begin to use helmet.
“As a way to correct these anomalies, a communique which was issued at the end of the meeting insisted that motorcycles being used for Okada must be road worthy and must have the two side mirrors fixed on them adding that, any commercial motorcycle rider can no longer operate without a valid licence and crash helmet in the state.”
The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), vowed to deal decisively with defaulters, including those operating without registration plates.
The communique after the programme said operators must provide helmets for their passengers, and must carry only one passenger at a time without any loading, and alcohol will no longer be sold in motor parks.
FRSC Sector Commander, Yussuf Salami said: “Thousands of helmets were distributed to them last year but we observe that some of them are not using it and are keeping it at home.
They also engage on overload thereby endangering the lives of their passengers and creating social problems. All these are causing overstretching of government facilities in hospitals.
“Any Okada rider caught without helmet is fined N10, 000 but I think if we can increase the fine in partnership with the Oyo State Government, so many Okada rider will adhere strictly to the rules and regulation.
“Many Okada riders in this state needs attitudinal change and are inpatient. They are even ungrateful to government because they should have banned them.
“If we now charge them N30, 000 for non-usage of safety helmet, I know they will change. I will even advice the state government to start conducting psychiatric test on them because most of them behave abnormal while riding. Even Okada riders unions unit that ought to discipline their members are only interested in their daily dues. So many deaths has been recorded in this state from Okada accidents.”
He urged the state government to have a database for all Okada riders in the state and give them same uniform in order to curb their menace.