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OKADA- A MENACE IN PLAIN SIGHT

I am writing this letter to the Heads of families, Churches, Mosques, FRSC, NSCDC, NPF, DRTS and any other Government office tasked with ensuring the safety of Nigerians on Nigerian roads. Because it concerns and affects all of us.
While we have all become very conscious of the different menaces around us in these trying times; these being kidnappers, herdsmen, bandits and the “regular” armed robbers, there is a menace that seems to have escaped the attention of everyone; except those that it affects directly. This menace I speak of is commercial motorcycle riders. Popularly called OKADA!
They move around unrestrained and uncontrolled, flouting every road traffic rule and regulation. When they run into a vehicle, as it is bound to happen since they do not obey laws, their fellow bike riders gather together in large numbers and in record time, like locusts and irrespective of what truthfully happened, place the blame on the driver of the vehicle.
We as a people have a high regard for life and are quick to show sympathy. But that sentiment is now being used against drivers of vehicles. A driver whose car has been damaged by a reckless Okada rider is forced to take the rider to a hospital, pay his bills and most likely still give him money. No one even talks about the damage to the vehicle. Why? Because we as a people show more regard for life. While I am not against this in anyway, I believe ALL LIVES are important and matter. What happens to the driver? Can he/she fix his/her car? Was the car borrowed? How does the driver handle the trauma of the incident? No one asks these questions except those that know the driver personally.
Drivers have been lynched and had their cars destroyed because they were standing for their right. Passers-by have also been lynched for speaking the truth. Because of this, when a crash occurs and the swarm gathers, everyone leaves the driver to his or her fate.
This is not good enough. We should all be protected.
Why can Okada riders not be punished for their recklessness? This truly is a problem and if we are not careful and do something about it, it will consume us all one day.
Yes I know they are performing a service as well as earning a living but that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to run amuck in our societies.
SOLUTIONS
Every Okada rider should be licensed just as vehicle drivers are licensed. Drugs and alcohol tests should be done on each rider too.
Every Okada rider should purchase safety gear (helmets, elbow pads, shoulder braces and knee pads) and must use them. These for a start may be issued free to encourage them to be licensed. Awareness campaigns may be carried out also to encourage the riders on the need to be safety conscious.
Every area should have a saturation limit. The FRSC, DRTS can undertake a survey to know the number of people in a locality and when that has been established, set a saturation limit (example: 1 bike per 10 people). That way the area does not have too many bike riders in it. This will even help the riders because they will make more money.
All commercial riders must wear reflective, safety vests with a personalized number which is attached to his license so in the case of recklessness, he can easily be identified and punitive measures meted out.
Sirs and Madams, it will be easy to ignore this message and move on with life. After all, you probably live in a locality where commercial bikes are not operational. But what about your family that live in such places? What about other Nigerians? The Almighty has put you in a position of leadership to help make society better. Please help make our society better.
Thank you.
Alaye Harry
Concerned Citizen,
Federal Republic of Nigeria

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