I live in Port Harcourt, Rivers state Nigeria. I have been here for four years now. Port Harcourt has seen different activities in recent times. From street cultism to communal clashes and finally to militancy which has gone from bad to terrible. All this as a result of bad governace.
On the 27th October 2007, a new era began as Hon Rotimi Amechi was sworn in as the govnor of Rivers State. He made promises which so far he has been able to excute some. It can as a shock but the change came and there has been mixed feelings to the present state we have found our selves.
One of his promises was the ban on Okada which will be our area of concentration today, also the demolition of illegal structures which has caused congestion in the state for a number of years now. We have seen the ‘demolution’ in action, we have seen the tremendous effect (positive) it has had in our environment. The demolition was a good government policy and step but what of the ban on Okada ?
On the 1st of January 2009,the ban on Commercial bikes (Okada) took effect. It was one of the promises made by the government of Rivers State to improve the livelihood of its citizens. It came as a shock to the so loved citizens as they saw Okada as the fastest and easiest means of transportation. No one thought the government will keep to its words. It was not as welcomed as the government thought it will be. So I wonder what were the intentions of the government ? lets look at the positive side to it ;
- Reduce Crime Rate : Most crime in the city before now was carried out using commercial bikes, bank robberies, kidnapping, assassination and others.
- Accidents:Commercial bikes have been know to be riddenby people with little or mostly no experience in riding bikes.As a result the rate of accidents caused by them is alarming. The most amazing is that they don’t even use crash helmets.Imagine the injuries and deaths that would have been caused by this lackadaisical attitude towards safety.
- Reduced Traffic Congestion: In some areas in Port Harcourt like in Agip Junction, 1 of the major cause of traffic jam is the commercial bike, they come like a flood of bees and all want to pass at the same time, also in so many other junctions in Trans-amadi, its like they don’t stop coming. Something had to be done.
- Noise and Air Pollution:The emission of carbon monoxide and noise from the continues raving of the bikes has also been eliminated by this ban. Where by also improving health state of individuals in the state.
- Decongestion of city:As a result of the new way of life there has been mass relocation of individuals to other states, especially the Okada riders, this also has health advantage,like reduced damage to the respiratory system caused pollution and waste,reduction on the rate of disease.
We must see these advantages as a good reason to all be happy and celebrate the new change, but there is always a “but”, the government has also tossed aside some major areas that must first be put right before this change is made. some of these can been seen as disadvantages to the most loved citizen.
Obviously, as a result of the ban, there will be major influx of cars which will lead to the avoided congestion. This would have not been so if only the roads have been repaired and more link roads constructed to ease major roads.I am not saying roads have been worked on but it has not yet reach the level were we can now say we have enough roads. Every one that had abandonedcars in repair shops has gone to pick them up, so with also the road safety workers not checking road worthy cars pollution will be back in the streets.
In all this cofussion, in Port Harcourt there is fuel scarcity, this has now increased transport fees, and scarcity of commercial cars,so you can imagin the treking be done in the city.People are going late to work and stressed, this will surely reduce productivity in turn reducing revenue. So what do you think , Good or Bad the ban has come to stay.