Ekpa, Amaechi, Others Task Keke/Okada Riders On World Best Practices
By Ignatius Ushie
As many states of the federation consider the outright ban on tricycle and motorcycles popularly known as Keke/Okada as means of transportation in major cities, a transportation expert and former Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Amb. (Dr.) Anthonia Ekpa OON, has emphasized the need for motorcyclists to take double caution when travelling on the road.
Ekpa stated this while delivering a key note address titled ‘Sustaining economic development through motorcycle and tricycle operations in Nigeria’ at the 2022 strategic stakeholders summit of the Amalgamated Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners, Repairers and Riders Association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN), which held in Abuja last week.
She noted that commercial motorcycles are gaining popularity as means of transportation because of government’s own effort at empowering its less privileged citizens.
According to her, “it is important for motorcyclists to take double caution when travelling on the road. Adding that, “Nigerians appear to forget that the growth of the number of these set of transport is because of government’s own effort at empowering its less privileged citizens and not a blame game.
“The summit, I believe in my reckoning, is not a session for blame- sharing. Rather, we need as a people to consider the issues dispassionately and find solutions to them as other countries have. These vehicles in Nigeria offer the ‘last mile service’.
“They convey people from where other transport modes stop and take them to the exact destination required. Because of the inconvenience, they undergo accessing bad roads with commuters, their bill is sometimes higher than the average taxi.
“But generally, they go farther than conventional buses or car taxis. They owe their popularity to their ability to get you to remote locations as well as help people beat traffic. In busy cities like Abuja and Lagos where people are always on the move, commercial motorcycles make movements easy” she said.
Earlier, the former Permanent Secretary observed that there is a consensus, generated mostly from Government Circles at all levels, associating this mode of transport with road accidents, criminality, insecurity, and indiscipline of the operators on our roads, noting that, “there is no doubt that some of these reports are true, stressing “We are witnesses of how insurgency has festered because these modes of transport are easy to procure and apply on roads. Technologies can be deployed to enhance their efficiency, Ekpa said.
Also, in his remarks, the Chairman of the Summit and former Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi, charged ACOMORAN to regulate itself and conform to safety standards and world best practices to guarantee being accommodated in the transportation system.
Amaechi stated that the stereotype that tricycles and motorcycles are bad can be corrected if their members are fully regulated and reoriented in terms of value addition to their operations.
Speaking during the event, the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye, disclosed of plans to deploy a sustainable mass transit system that will not fail, but serve all Nigerians.
According to him, “the Federal Government under the leadership of our father and leader, President Muhammadu Buhari. GCON is also desirous of putting in place, a mass transit system that will not fail like those of the past.
“It is true that several governments in the past have done one or two things to promote mass transit and ensure that our people are able to move from one place to the other seamlessly and easily, but this administration will go further to deploy one that is sustainable, the Minister assured.
On the ban of motorcycles, Adegoroye informed that the Federal Government has not taken a concrete decision to ban the operation of motorcycles, popularly called Okada, as a form of commercial transportation in the country.
Also speaking, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Land Transport, Hon. Tajudeen stated that as legislators, they are ready to assist the Association in making enabling laws that will provide adequate peace and security in the transport sub- sector as it is imperative for government to ensure that the lives and property of its citizens are protected, adding that, the motorcycles and tricycles mode of transportation is now used by bandits to aid criminal activities and this menace has put fear in the minds of commuters and the general public. He therefore urged the association to identify such members and ensure they are prosecuted.
While acknowledging the importance of the operators as available statistics have shown that they have contributed immensely to the nation’s GDP, he called upon the association to ensure training and re-training of its members by the academia and security agencies. The lawmaker also called on the association to have a database of all its members as this will make monitoring of their operations easier.
Earlier, the National President of ACOMORAN, Prince Adebayo Apelogun, noted that as an organization consisting of over 12 million members, ACOMORAN operations in Nigeria has become a major source of livelihood. Apelogun disclosed that the leadership of association has initiated plans to curb accidents and criminality among members.
“It is an open discussion that our operations in a few states in Nigeria are being restricted, and motorcycles are confiscated and destroyed which affects many innocent riders who took loans to buy their bikes. These include young graduates who have tried unsuccessfully to find gainful employment. “The governments hinged their decisions fundamentally on two factors: Accidents and Insecurity.
“As an association, we have responded accordingly, presenting to the government the effects of that proposed policy. We shall have the train-the-trainers workshop where we educate our members as this is in fulfilment of one of my electoral promises as contained in my Action Plan” he said.