Commercial motorcyclists in Ogun state have rejected the government directive to register at one of the state’s designated registration points across the state within ten days or risk arrest.
The motorcyclists said the N5,000 registration fee imposed by the government is “outrageous.”
“This is an insensitive move by the government,” said Raji Adekanbi, a commercial motorcyclist who plies the Panseke route.
“Don’t they know that most of us doing this job are doing it because we have no option? I finished my National Diploma at Moshood Abiola Polytechnic and my father died, I couldn’t go further and I had no other option than to pick up a bike.”
The Ogun State government had on Monday issued a 10-day ultimatum to the commercial motorcyclists – popularly known as Okada riders – to register their operations at any of the about 5,000 registration points set up across the 20 Local government areas of the state.
According to Juwon Adebanjo, the official in charge of the Commercial Motorcycle Riders Identification Scheme (COMORIS) in the state, there are over 40,000 commercial motorcyclists in Ogun State.
PREMIUM TIMES is yet to ascertain this figure.
But the motorcyclists say they are ready to defy the government’s October 1 deadline.
Mr Adekanbi said the government’s decision was hasty.
“Any day I am unable to remit N4,000 to the owner of this bike, it will be taken away from me and given to someone else,” he said.
“How then does the government want me to get N5,000 to register in ten days? Won’t I feed myself? Government has done more harm than good. They should be ready to make arrest (sic) of many of us because the money is unrealistic. Where do they want me to get it from?”
Kunle Adelaja, another commercial motorcyclist, said the government should pay more attention to building the deplorable roads in the state before enforcing the N5,000 registration fee.
“I was working around Sango Ota before I came to Abeokuta after I was involved in road accidents twice in the same week,” said Mr Adelaja.
“The government should be compassionate now, we are suffering and because they and their family members are not feeling what we are feeling, the only thing they can do is to make our sufferings stiffer, but I know that there is God. I am ready to let them arrest me; possibly I’ll die there.
“There is money in Sango but I can’t continue to endanger my life so I came here (Abeokuta). Even this Abeokuta roads are getting damaged gradually too.”
Appeal for calm
An official of the motorcyclists’ union in the state, Olalekan Sonaola, however, appealed to the riders not to take laws into their hands but to engage with their secretariat when they are facing challenges.
“We have told them to come to us anytime they have any issue just like they are coming to report to you journalists; let them come to us too. Help us enlighten them,” Mr Sonaola said.
“Our secretariat is open for their complaints. If they have complained, maybe we would have known what to do as regards the price. But for now, I don’t know what to say.
“We are not the ones helping the government in the collection of the money or in the registration of the riders. Government has its own body set up to oversee that already and we have discussed it together with the commissioner of police.”
He explained that the government will make riders’ permits and reflective jackets available to the riders from the same money paid.
According to him, the colour of the jackets would indicate the senatorial district in the state a rider belongs to.
“We will continue to engage with our riders and to enlighten them on the reasons for the registration,” Mr Sonaola added.
The Commissioner for Transport in the state, Gbenga Dairo, could not be reached for comments.
Phone calls and a text message to his phone were not answered.
Influx from Lagos
Meanwhile, at a meeting in Abeokuta on Monday, the police spokesperson in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the ban of commercial motorcyclists in the neighbouring Lagos State had led to the influx of the riders into Ogun.
This, he said, necessitated the need for the registration of the riders with a view to creating a database for motorcyclists operating in Ogun State.
He added that this would help the police tackle any form of criminality that would arise due to the influx.
Mr Oyeyemi explained that the leadership of all okada riders unions “have been communicated over the government decision to enforce the registration”.
As a mark of identification, Mr Oyeyemi said the reflective jackets given to the riders would be inscribed with numbers.
“If anybody commits any crime using Okada in any part of the state, we will be able to quickly pinpoint who is actually responsible for such crime,” he said.
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