By Polycarp Auta
In 2012, the Plateau government banned commercial motorcyclists, known as Okada bikers, and regulated the operations of commercial tricycles in the metropolises of Jos and Bukuru.
Okada’s ban followed a law passed by the House of Assembly and approved by Jonah Jang, then governor.
The law banned Okada from the Jos and Bukuru axis and also ordered tricycle operators to use only designated routes in the city and operate between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.
The government has raised safety concerns for the ban after alleging that motorcyclists are being used as tools to commit the most heinous crimes.
Law enforcement was met with stiff resistance, especially by those who believed the movement was targeting a particular section of society, but the government stood firm and eliminated the runners from the streets.
To cushion commuters’ hardships caused by the ban, the government loaned buses, taxis and tricycles to interested citizens who used the affected roads.
A working group made up of government officials has been formed to monitor compliance
But the joy of the people of Jos seems short-lived with the recent resurgence of commercial motorcycle operators on routes previously taboo for them.
Currently, they operate freely in Rayfield, Zaramaganda, Dadin Kowa, Sabon Barki, Rantya, Tudun Wada, Abattior, among others.
More worrying is the fact that motorcyclists ply the main streets and highways of Jos without risk of penalty, a practice which the law had prohibited.
They entered the city center and are a common place around the terminus market, Ahmadu Bello lane, Murtala lane, Yakubu Gowon lane, among others.
Mr. John Gyang, a resident of Dadin Kowa, says Okada runners have posed a serious threat and have, over time, contributed to the increase in the accident rate.
“Okada drivers are generally reckless on the highways; the ban has made the roads healthy, but with their return, the bad days are back, ”he fulminated.
Other observers accused security personnel of being a major violator of the ban, noting that most of the runners were either military or police.
Concerned about development, the Plateau House of Assembly recently called for full enforcement of the law banning the operations of commercial motorcyclists in Jos.
The House, in a motion presented by Daniel Nanbol, member representing Lantang North Central, expressed deep concern over the non-compliance with the law.
Nanbol reminded lawmakers that there is a law banning motorcycle operations in Jos, and even tricycles have designated areas in which to operate.
He argued that the uncontrolled operations of Okada runners posed a threat to the safety of residents.
“It is not safe to even board tricycles in some areas; it will be good for law enforcement officers to do their job, ”he said.
Mr. Baba Hassan, member representing the constituency of Jos Nord, also expressed his concern at the high level of insecurity resulting from the uncontrolled operations of Okada and the tricycle drivers.
House Majority Leader Daniel Naanlong said it was imperative that the people adhere to the laws.
“We need to make sure that the laws we enact are fully implemented,” he said.
House Speaker Abok Ayuba agreed with his colleagues, saying laws passed by the House must be fully implemented.
“The laws we enact must be implemented and we must call on those who have not enforced them to come before us and explain the reason for their failure,” he said.
The Plateau section of the Union of Journalists of Nigeria (NUJ), in a statement issued at the end of its congress held on July 9, expressed deep concern at the “harmful activities of motorcycles and tricycles”.
The statement signed by Mr. Peter Amine, his secretary, called on the government and security agencies to fully enforce the motorcycle ban and to regulate tricycle operations in the metropolis of Jos and Bukuru.
The union called on security agencies to review the closing time for tricycle operations from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day.
For his part, Mr. Dan Majang, Information and Communication Commissioner, called the resurgence an “unfortunate development”.
He said the law banning Okada and regulating tricycle operators in Jos was still in effect, warning that anyone found in violation must be arrested and prosecuted.
“The government’s position is that the driving ban for motorcyclists in the metropolis of Jos and Bukuru is still in effect. It is promulgated by the state house of assembly; it was not repealed.
“It is unfortunate that we are witnessing a resurgence of operators. Non-compliance is purely an act of illegality, ”he said.
The commissioner blamed the resurgence on non-enforcement of the ban by security and relevant government agencies, adding that the return of Okada operators was a threat to state peace and security.
“These operators commit numerous crimes and pose serious threats to the security of the state. Their resurgence is dangerous.
“So I want to call on the security agencies and the Ministry of Transport to step up their efforts to ensure that the ban is enforced at the latest. “
To corroborate Manjang, Mr. Ubah Ogaba, the state police public relations officer (PPRO), insisted that the ban had not been lifted and the law had not been changed.
The PPRO said police command responded to the NUJ’s call and revised the closing time for tricycle operation to 7 p.m. daily.
According to the spokesperson, the command has arrested many violators of the ban and will continue the raid.
“Okada’s operating ban has not been lifted. It is a law and it is only through a law that it can be amended.
“We have arrested a number of offenders, impounded their motorcycles and charged many in court.
“We expect all tricycle operators to comply with the new closing time; it will help resolve some of the security issues in Jos and Bukuru, ” he said.
Ogaba advised residents of the state to refrain from violating the ban, warning anyone arrested would be subjected to the full wrath of the law.
The PPRO rejected allegations that some security personnel were guilty of flouting the traffic ban on Okada in the city, and explained that the few people seen on the roads were being used “for official purposes only. “. (NAN characteristics)
** If used, please credit the author and the Nigerian News Agency.
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