Commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as okada riders, on Tuesday locked down Ondo City, in Ondo State, while protesting an order by the police against carrying more than one passenger.
The protest which began in the early hours of the day paralysed commercial activities in the city.
The riders who are also members of the Commercial Motorcycle Transport and Riders Association, COMTRA, also protested against the high cost of daily tickets imposed on them by the leadership of their union.
They vowed to resist the ‘one passenger’ rule by the police as well as the increased levies by their union.
Some of the riders who spoke to journalists said the high cost of fuel and other spare parts had made their job difficult, calling on the police to rescind its decision to ban the carrying of multiple passengers.
John Akinbowale, one of the leaders of the protesters, said the protest was not to disrupt the peace of the town, but to draw attention to their plight as a result of the new policies.
He said the protest was organised to demand the reversal of the police order on the number of passengers to be carried, noting that some police officers have started extorting their members barely 24 hours of issuing the order.
He condemned the attitude of the leadership of the association in the town for adding to the woes of the okada riders by introducing high ticket rates.
Addressing the protesters, the Divisional Police Officer, Yaba division in Ondo town, Regina Mogbojuri, appealed to the commercial motorcycle operators to embrace dialogue rather than protest.
She explained that the ban was initiated to stem the rate of crime in the town.
“Criminals now use okada to perpetrate crimes and this has been a source of worry to security operatives in this town, so the ban was aimed at checkmating the rate of crime,” she said.