Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin City | 15 June 2013 | 5,251 times
Many angry residents of Edo State have condemned what they see as their state government’s insensitivity towards motorbike riders. The widespread criticisms follow the state governor, Adams Oshiomhole’s announcement that with effect from Monday 17, 2013, commercial motorbikes would not be allowed to operate in the three metropolitan local government areas (Oredo, Egor and Ikpoba Okha) of the state.
Comrade Oshiomhole while speaking during the state’s Executive Council meeting, attended by heads of various security agencies of the state, cited the increasing crime rate in the state, which he alleged is aided by the operations of some bike riders, as the reason for the decision. He said that there has been an influx of motorbike riders from neighboring states that had banned motorbike operations, and that this has led to an upsurge in criminal activities where persons posing as bike riders have engaged in such crimes as armed robbery and kidnapping.
The governor stated that though the government wasn’t unaware of the likely high unemployment situation the policy would create, the decision was taken in the interest of the general security of the state’s residents. He also spoke of the desire to make the state safer, so as to make it more investment-friendly for businesses arriving from outside the state.
The ban has however left motorcyclists reeling. A bike rider who spoke with News Express in Benin City wondered aloud: “What do they want us to do now? How do we survive?”
Evans Unukoje, a News Presenter with ITV Benin, suggested that the Edo State Government had not given much thought to alternative employment for the commercial motorcyclists before taking the decision. “Is this ban on bike riders not going to result in more jobless people turning to crime?” he asked.
Another bike rider argues that while states like Lagos and Delta could afford to have many former motorcyclists absolved into other jobs because of the presence of many industries in those states, Edo State cannot do the same since it is not as heavily industrialised.
Many other residents say that people living in areas where commercial bikes have been banned should brace up for an increase in criminal activities. There is a sense in which people see the matter as some form of class struggle, where the security of the rich has been given more priority over the job security of poor bike men. Many victims of kidnapping and robbery in the state are rich people.
News Express was told by several persons in Benin City that many families’ livelihood depends upon the income from commercial motorcycling. For such families, the future, no doubt, looks bleak.
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