It is not a good one coming out of Awka, the Anambra state capital as over 25,000 of its youth are to hit the street. The Chairman of Awka South Motorcycle Transport Union of Nigeria, Kingsley Nworah, has said that over 10,000 youths would lose their jobs in Anambra State as a result of the recent proscription of commercial motorcycle operators in Awka.
Not left out is Onitsha, the commercial hub centre of the state, where about 15,000 persons will also lose their cycling job as a result of the ban.
The state government, had on Tuesday, issued a quit notice to commercial motorcyclists popularly known as Okada riders in the two major cities of the state.
The government in a press release by the Chief Press Secretary to the state government, Chief James Eze, said the ban would take effect from 1st July, adding that the long notice was to enable the operators to change to another trade or vacate the cities for good.
The statement said that this was part of the many resolutions from the meeting of the State Executive Council, and was part of the overall strategy adopted by the government to deepen its crackdown on crime and restore sanity to Onitsha and Awka.
But speaking with journalists in Awka Wednesday, Nworah expressed displeasure over government’s decision, saying they were taken unawares by the planned ban.
He said the association has over 10,000 members in Awka, lamenting that most of them would be thrown out of business if the government implements its decision.
According to him, many of them assumed the position of bread winners in their families and wondered what would be the fate of their wives and children if they are relieved of their jobs.
“We are not less than 10,000 members, just in Awka alone and our families depend on many of us for their upkeep.
“Many of us are into monthly contributions. Some acquired their motorcycles through the contributions, while some are waiting for their turn. Tell me what becomes their fate?” he asked.
Nworah, who admitted that certain criminals activities were perpetrated with the assistance of motorcycles, however maintained that outright ban of commercial motorcycle operation is not the solution.
“Is it only okada that is used to commit crimes? Haven’t they seen where cars, especially jeep were used in robbery operations? Will they now ban use of cars because of that?” He asked.
“Besides, we have always cautioned our members against getting involved in criminal activities, while we penalise the erring ones as a deterrent to others,” he said.
He enumerated the benefits of the union to the state to include payment of revenue, saying that the union’s monthly contributions to the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state is not less than a million, adding that they had never been indebted to that commitment.
“During the campaign period of the last governorship election, the governor promised that he will not ban okada in the state and to reciprocate the gesture, we encouraged our members to vote and they voted massively for him,” he said.
He appealed to the governor to reconsider his decision or better still, extend the deadline till December in order for them to look for alternative businesses.