Ondo bans commercial motorcyclists

 The protesting motorcyclists. Inset: The impounded motorcycles

The protesting motorcyclists. Inset: The impounded motorcycles

THE Ondo State government has suspended the operation of commercial motorcycles, popularly known as Okada. The move followed protests last week by the motorcyclists who alleged exploitation and high-handedness by state officials.

In a statement on Friday, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Rotimi Adelola, said: “The Ondo State Government has ordered, effective from 12 midnight today July 24, 2015, the suspension of commercial motorcycle operations in Akure metropolis.”

Adelola also said government was “suspending ticketing activities of commercial motorcycle operators across the state,” as it seeks to unravel reasons behind the protest, and that a panel has been set up by the government to investigate the disturbance.

He noted that the suspension prohibits operation by commercial motorcyclists on some major roads, including Oba Adesida, Oyemekun FUTA South Gate, Arakale, Alagbaka, Afunbiowo, Oba-Ile, Mobil-Fiwasaye, Oshinle, Ijoka, Oluwatuyi, among others.

Inspecting the damage done by the protesters, especially the mutilation of trees, Governor Olusegun Mimiko said: “Protest is a fundamental right that nobody can take away from this people. But to go on rampage, destroying property, especially ornamental trees on the median, is not only distressing, it is also annoying and very frustrating.”

One of the protesters, Bayo Adekunle, accused the state government of implementing a draconian policy that bans the use of number plates from other states of the federation.

He added: “To worsen the situation, they started arresting our members and colleagues who didn’t get the plates. They were forced to pay N6,000, including a compulsory fee of N2,000 for the state’s Residency Card known as Kaadi Igbeayo. They also charged N700 for medical emergency services, known as ‘Ebola Ticket’, before our bikes could be released to us.”

Another protester, Tunmise Bankole, said many of the operators are graduates from various institutions, who turned to the business to make ends meet, blaming government for its inability to provide jobs. He said they resorted to protest because many of them had been victimized.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Union Matters, Dayo Fadahunsi, said the state government decided ‎to introduce the number plates in order to reduce the rate of crimes allegedly being perpetrated by Okada riders.

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