Commercial motorcyclists in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Friday appealed to the Federal Government not to ban their operation across the country. Some of the operators told journalists in Abuja that a nationwide ban on commercial motorcyclists would amount to taking away their means of livelihood. Newsmen recall that the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) had last month advised the federal government to ban commercial motorcycles, popularly known as ‘Okada’, to reduce accidents on the roads. In asking for a nationwide ban on `Okada’, the FRSC had blamed many of the road crashes on commercial motorcycle operators. But the commercial motorcyclists told journalists in Abuja they were not the major cause of crashes on the highways. Yakubu Usman, an “Okada” rider, said that the proposed ban would adversely affect easy movement of commuters in the country. According to Usman, many graduates and government workers operate “Okada’’ to feed their families. “I don’t know how government expects us to feed if they take away our means of livelihood. “Many people in this business are unemployed and government workers who don’t get paid regularly.
“This job is the only means through which they provide for their families after work and it is no use taking away their only source of income,’’ Usman told newsmen. Another operator, Abdullahi Dogo, said government should provide alternative means of transport for local commuters and create more jobs for millions of Nigerians that would become jobless. He also said that the ban would lead to increase in crime rates in the country. “Government should remember that the rate of unemployment is high and banning commercial motorcycles means millions will join the league of the unemployed,’’ Dogo said. Another respondent, David Ocholi, said that the poor condition of roads was responsible for crashes and not the commercial motorcyclists. “The poor condition of the highways need urgent attention,’’ Ocholi said. He called on the federal government to fix the bad portions on the highways in order to reduce the rate of accidents in the country.