The Oyo State Government is set to introduce identification cards for commercial cyclists operating in the state, ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE writes.
Commercial motorcycle (Okada) operators who had thronged neighbouring state of Oyo, following the heat generated by the restrictions of their operation in about 15 local government areas in Lagos State, may have a new thinking coming. This is as the Oyo State government disclosed its readiness to introduce a riders’ card for all commercial motorcyclists operating in the state.
The move, which is coming up for the first time in Oyo, the government said, is to help check the soaring crimes rate as a result of the influx of bad elements who have invaded commercial motorcycle activities in the state.
The Commissioner insisted that there was no going back on the riders permit. Besides helping to generate a database on the number of commercial operators in the state, government insists the permit would help stem crime and insecurity in the state.
According to Afonja a riders’ card will enable the government to differentiate registered commercial motorcyclists from criminal elements, who often times use motorcycles to operate.
He said: “We have concluded that, due to what happened in Lagos State, which has led to an influx of people moving from Lagos into Oyo State, there is a need to have Okada Riders’ Card to identify people coming into the state.
“So, in collaboration with the revenue collector for the state and FRSC and the unions, we will start this to gather information on those who are engaging in commercial or private cycling businesses in the state. This is possible through profiling. The security agencies are in need of these pieces of information.”
Afonja explained that the Riders’ Cards would afford the government the opportunity to have a database of the riders across the state, saying: “The registration of motorcyclists through the Riders’ Cards will ultimately help us in generating a database for us to know who is who; who owns what; who they are, where they live and the rest. We will also add their BVN to know who they really are.”
The Lagos experience
Until the Lagos State Government revisited the Lagos Traffic Reform Law 2018 and enforced a restriction on okada and Keke Marwa activities on February 3, 2020, the government has been battling with a worrisome trend that intend to implode with grave consequences on its security architecture.
Government insisted that the influx of migrants from all walks of life into the state is breeding insecurity, forcing the government to review the law and directed the law enforcement agents to begin full enforcement in six local governments and nine Local Council Development Authority (LCDA) in the state.
The Deputy Governor Dr Obafemi Hamzat insisted the restriction on those selected roads, bridges and highways would not be lifted as government would not sacrifice the safety and security of any Lagosian.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr Gbenga Omotoso also alluded to increasing spate of accidents traceable to okada activities. He said no fewer than 10,000 accidents have been recorded in the 22 state owned General Hospitals, adding that the number could be higher if other accident cases that goes unreported are factored in.
Same crime, different climes
No matter the argument adduced in defence of commercial okada operation, a simple profiling of the activities of these operators showed similar trait; the escalation of crime as a result of the rise in the number of okada operators in Oyo State.
Going by Afonja’s admittance, Oyo State’s transportation architecture which is noted for its Micra modeled commercial salon cars, which in itself is a major menace in Ibadan and environs, the city, reputed in the 60s as the largest in Africa, may be witnessing a major shift with the invasion of okada operators in the transportation system.
Incidentally, lorry loads of okada were seen leaving Lagos State in droves, when it became obvious the state has become too hot for okada operation. Some of those operators, believed to be from the Northern section of the country it is believed, end up in border-states with friendly disposition to okada operation.
That the Oyo government is raising the red flag barely a month okada activities were restricted in Lagos, is not only worrisome, but lends credence to assertions that crime, migrate to anywhere it could bloom.
“Recently, you may have heard about snatching of bikes and robberies using motorcycles. That is why we are trying to make sure that all motorcycles in Oyo State are properly registered. We will ensure they do what is needful to make sure they obey the law,” said the commissioner.
There is no doubting the Oyo State governor’s commitment to the pursuit of populist’s agenda and policies. For him, a rider’s permit may be enough to curb the propensity of some bad elements in the commercial motorcycle activities.
Nothing could better demonstrate in more stronger terms Makinde’s commitment than his directive to slash the daily levy charge on commercial motorcyclists.
The commissioner added that Governor Makinde ordered the immediate reduction of the daily levy charge on commercial motorcyclists and tricyclists in the state from N200 to N100 to ameliorate the suffering of the riders.
He said: “This press conference is being held in response to the recent pronouncement by the Ministry of Finance and the Oyo State Board of Internal Revenue regarding the state revenue that we have been collecting from tricycles and motorcycle riders in the state.
“From the information that was passed down to us by the Ministry of Finance and BIR, we were told that it was agreed upon that the consultant was to collect 200 Naira as a daily collection from these commercial bikers including tricycles and motorcycles.
“Upon escalating this issue to the governor, we found out he was not in support of this increase in the revenue collection from N100 to N200. So, I want to apologise to the unions and other stakeholders who are affected by the increment.
“The governor has instructed me to pass this information on that his goal is to ensure that people’s money remain in their pockets to take care of their families. So, he has gracefully reduced this fee from N200 to N100.
“He also believes that this change will trickle down to the people who are in the markets and will help people and their families.
“In addition to that, we have met with those in the quarries to include the union people. They are excited, understanding that the fact that the governor has listening ears. The governor met with them physically. He understands their cry and he has assured them of his support.”
Afonja added that the revenue collectors would be at every park from Friday, urging the commercial motorcyclists and tricyclists to cooperate with them.
“Moving forward, commercial motorcyclists and tricyclists will be paying N100 to a revenue consultant daily,” he said.