Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Why is Baning of Okada/Keke in Anambra Yet to be Enforced?

Anambra State government through the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Uju Nwogu announced outright ban on motorcycles (Okada) and tricycles (Keke Napep) from operating the major highways in the state with effect from June 1, 2015.

The statement, jointly signed by Dr. Nwogu and Hon. Chuma Mbonu, the state Commissioner for Transport, explained that the new regulation affects all private and commercial motorcycle and tricycle operators, adding that it would be illegal for all motorcycles either private or commercial to ply the designated roads.

The designated roads were Enugu-Onitsha expressway, Arthur Eze Avenue and Ziks Avenue for Awka; while in Onitsha, the roads include Onitsha-Owerri expressway, Awka Road, Borromeo-Upper Iweka-Bridge Head road, Old and New Market roads and Oguta Road; and Nnewi included Nnewi- Nnobi road and Nnewi – Oba road.

These roads believed to be the busiest in the state, the state government directed all commuters who want to use the aforementioned roads to use taxis and buses provided by the state government and other commercial vehicle owners.

However, for two weeks now, this government decision seemed not to have been enforced as Okada and Keke are regularly seen on the forbidden roads with impunity. This is why most of the populace have assumed that the government has rescinded its decision.

This is even as the commercial cyclists and tricycle operators, our investigation revealed have been in secret meeting with the police and other stakeholders in the State to intervene in the matter by devising other ways of appealing to the governor to rescind the idea of banning or restricting them in the State.

Speaking to our reporter, one of the commercial cyclists, Ike Odo alledged that government has asked them to continue after receiving the sum of N7,million from automobile dealers from Nnewi and another N8 million from Okada operators from Anambra State.

But when asked how Okada operators were able to make such amount, Odo humbly replied, “We pay N100 for ticket every day and renew our membership with N800 annually and in Anambra State, we are more than 5,000 Okada operators”

Also speaking in a separate interview, an Executive of the Okada riders in Awka, who pledged anonymity said government has concluded plans to impound their Okada and Keke despite the intervention of major distributors and State executives of the union.

“We have been pleading with them to give us more time to prepare ourselves but the two commissioners refused especially commissioner for information, Barr. Nwogu. We have employed every available means including protest but the police warned us in fact, we are helpless” he alleged.

Reacting in a statement signed by her State Publicity secretary, Mr. Okelo Madukaife, the All Progressive Congress (APC) averred that “the hurriedly announced revised ban on motorcycles and tricycles from some routes in Anambra State is a clever-by-half approach of playing on the intelligence of Ndi Anambra who have condemned the high-handed and unlawful moves by Anambra State government to degrade life and services in the state.

“This approach to information management is unethical, if not outright dishonest. For this reason, APC calls on the Commissioner of Information to resign in order to give dignity to the office of public trust which she holds” it said.

When contacted, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and tourism, Dr. Uju Nwogu denied receiving any money from the motorcycle dealers, describing the rumour as baseless and unfounded.

Hear her: “Please don’t mind them. It is not true and we are not rescinding the decision because it is for our common good. We suppose to start implementation today being Wednesday but because of the Vice President’s visit to Onitsha tanker victims, we decided to start tomorrow or next. Infact, we have meeting with the the Commissioner of police on Thursday to discuss modalities of the implementation and after that, we will start in earnest” she vowed.

The State Government further denied collecting the alleged N15 million naira bribe from motorcycle dealers in Anambra state to rescind its decision on ban of motorcycle and tricycle on the major high ways in the State, describing it as a mere rumour by rumour mongers.

She noted that Anambra state is too big to be financially induced by motorcycle dealers, even as it noted that there is no going back on Okada ban in the State as such policy, because according to her, is in the best interest of the citizens.

On his part, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Uche Eze, in an interview, while confirming that Okada operators have been begging for more time to organise themselves and plan for other businesses that could sustain them and their families, added that “police has not started implementation because no concrete arrangement has been made for that but they (Okada oprators) have been instructed by the police to maintain law and order and as well obey government directives while negotiation continues”.



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