Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The proposed ban on okadas

Following a couple of ugly incidents in the past week, both the minister for the Federal Capital Territory and the Lagos State Governor are threatening to ban motorbike taxis (known here as okada). There is a good editorial in today's Nigerian Guardian on the whole caboodle.

The point raised is a familiar one: government rushing to authoritarian threats which are responses to a situation for which they are entirely responsible. Its all very well wanting to have cities that look and work like Milton Keynes or Seattle, but some of the enlarged jobless angry masses will inevitably in their desperation turn to crime. Banning okadas will deprive many young men of employment, without offering an alternative way of scratching a living.

The proposed ban okadas is an impish attack on the symptom, not the cause. What is needed, as the editorial points out, is a planned metro system for both Lagos and Abuja. At the moment, we have posh Western looking bus stops all over central Abuja, but no buses (500 are on the way, apparently). But buses will not be enough. Why not have a light railway linking the satellite towns? Why not have many more of the motorised rickshaws (these are safer than motorbikes and can carry more people)? Why not build safe cycle paths at the side of the roads (like elsewhere, there's enough overweight people in Abuja who would benefit). Or why not think big and develop an underground subway system for Abuja?

By attacking the little guy and going for the quasi-dictatorial masterstroke, those in power appear to be falling for a blinkered short-termism and decision making by executive fiat, at a time when the multitude are seething with anger and resentment. When will a political leadership that cares enough to think about long-term strategies for the benefit of the people emerge in Nigeria?


Imnakoya 3:30 am  

The topic of this post is something I have been studying for some days now. I partly agree with you on the fact that banning Okada will amount to robbing some of their source of likelihood. But quite frankly they should be banned, but replaced with the tricycle called Keke-NAPEP. NAPEP is the National Poverty Eradication Program- so if the government is serious about this program, they will find a system of getting these Kekes into the hands of the Okada riders. Keke is safer to ride on the highway and it is far more comfortable. If they can implement this all over Nigeria, they would have killed two birds with one stone…But does the government have the will to pull this off?

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