Daily Trust (Abuja)

18 January 2013

Nigeria: DRTS Gives Final Warning to Okada Riders

The Directorate of Road Traffic Services Wednesday gave recalcitrant commercial motorcyclists popularly called okada riders final warnings to obey the FCT Administrations ban on their activities in the city centre or face stern action.

The directorate's FCT Director, Col. Wilson Rotimi Alade (rtd), who handed down the warning, advised the riders to return to their various villages with their bikes in order to seek alternative jobs to do. He said the FCT Administration has set up a special task force consisting of the DRTS, Nigerian Army, National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Police and civilian informants to enforce the ban on the operation of commercial cyclists in the city centre, adding that about 422 motorcycles have been impounded within January 6 to 15.

According to him, personnel and resources of the taskforce are shared into five teams to carry out the enforcement in recalcitrant areas such as Area 1/Durumi, Lokogoma District, AYA/Asokoro, Airport Road and Life Camp/Gwarimpa simultaneously. He said the directorate's vehicles have been damaged by okada riders during operations while their personnel, who are not armed, have suffered harassment as well as assault from such riders.

"They use dangerous weapons to attack my men and we decided to request for the help of armed personnel such as the army, NSCDC and police to enable us carry out our duty," he added.

He lamented that early Wednesday morning, DRTS personnel resisted attacks from commercial cyclists, where two informants were seriously injured during the attacks and are in a hospital.

An impounded bike's owner at Area1, Mr. Nnamdi Ezeoha, said he is a Nigerian and expressed disappointment over the way government is treating okada riders.

"The way government treats us is unfair as we are harassed by the police and VIO. When they seized my motorcycle I was not carrying any passenger and it is my life savings that was used to buy the bike," he said.

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