Kano — Commercial motorcyclists locally known as Achaba have been banned from operating in Kano city and environs until they go through a registration process instituted by the state government.
Also, private bikes have been stopped from taking passengers until they register their motorcycles with their local government authorities.
Acting governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who announced this in Kano yesterday, said the decision was taken based on recommendations by security agencies.
"After a meeting with security agencies and a careful study of their reports, we noticed that it has become necessary to suspend motorcycle riders from carrying passengers as from Thursday, 24 January, 2013," Ganduje said in a statement.
"Motorcyclists are required to register their bikes in order to ensure safety of their own lives and those of public members. We urge the bikers to go back to their respective local governments to register for their own benefit and that of others."
Government sources told Daily Trust that the new rule was made because of the persistent use of bikes in drive-by gun attacks in the city in the past months.
On Saturday, bike-riding gunmen attacked the convoy of Emir of Kano Ado Bayero, killing six people and injuring two of the emir's sons.
In separate attacks earlier in November and December, gunmen on bikes shot dead two state house of assembly members in Kano.
Few hours after the ban was announced yesterday, gunmen on motorcycles shot dead five people at the Dakata area of Kano.
A security source said series of meetings between government officials and security agencies were held in the wake of the killings to discuss the possibility of banning motorcycles, but still it was agreed that the bikers should be regulated because of the security implications of a blanket ban.
A blanket ban on Achaba is likely to spark job crisis as tens of thousands of people are involved in the business, residents say.
It will also cause transportation problems because so many people in the city rely on Achaba and private bikes to navigate through traffic snarls especially in the densely populated areas.
Chairman of bike riders union ACOMORAN in Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Hassan Sani, described the suspension as sad, saying it "will put over 1.5 million people out of job" in the state.
He told Daily Trust that the state government took the decision without consulting them, and urged for a reversal of the rule in the interest of his members and the public.
"What they failed to understand is that the ban is not going to affect only our members, but also a lot of people in the state," said Sani, who chairs the Kano branch of the Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Riders Association of Nigeria.
For his part, state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Yunusa Isa Danguguwa, said the union will not take any action until it was notified by ACOMORAN.
"At that point we will sit down and analyze the whole issue, especially the way and manner in which the ban will affect the masses in the state. And later we will make our views known and advise all stakeholders in order to have peace and stability in the state," he said.
Soon after the suspension was announced yesterday, residents began to express divergent views on the issue.
A commuter, Sani Yahaya Aliyu, who said he was relying on Achaba as his means of transportation, expressed dismay over the suspension saying the policy would increase the hardship of people.
"You know this is the best transportation that can take you into every nook and cranny in the state at a cheaper rate. I don't know what kind of transportation I am going to be using now. Definitely I know my movement will be limited," he said.
"The government must provide us with other alternative means of transportation."
Another resident, however, hailed the suspension saying it would curtail the rate of gun attacks in the state.
Bike taxis have been banned in many cities around the country, including Maiduguri, Damaturu, Jos, Lagos and Abuja.
In some places like Gombe, partial bans have been placed in order to contain cases of drive-by shootings.
Lawan Danjuma Adamau, Nazifi Dawud Khalid, Lubabatu I. Garba and Haruna Gimba Yaya