FCT: Enforcing the ban on Okada and Keke operations
Tricycle and motorcycle operators represent a very important economic bloc in the FCT today that provides needed services for the population. A good look at the transportation value chain will reveal that tricycle and motorcycle are the most critical point, either in the process of initiating a journey – from point of take off to where people will enter motors or plane. There are those who also represent the last point of the journey, when somebody has finished and terminates at his destination. Without tricycle and motorcycles, the substantial population of the FCT and other parts of the country would have been deprived of this very important aspect of human activity, which is mobility.
Due to the unique position that this group occupies in the FCT, there have been a lot of communication and relations between the riders association and the relevant secretariats of the FCT Administration. There have also been various agreements and communiqué to ensure that the operations of commercial tricycles and motorcycles are restricted to designated areas, most notably the estates and suburbs. But as it is well known, Abuja is a magnet and everybody is just coming in. Sometimes, people come in and they don’t appreciate the agreements already entered between the associations and the FCTA.
Ordinarily, the Abuja master plan did not make provisions for Okada and Keke to operate in the capital city. Section 42(1) of the road traffic Act of the FCT is very clear about the operation of KekeNapep.
It says permit should not be granted for them to operate. However because of the magnanimity of government, it gave waivers for the group to operate in the estates and suburbs. This is because government does not want to prevent anybody from doing his work or looking for food in the FCT. Government understands that all of us in Abuja, including the FCT Minister, are in the capital city to look for food. Today, if there is no food in Abuja, all of us will go back to our villages. But this should be not be an excuse to do things in a manner that is capable of distorting peace and order in the FCT. A situation where all manner of persons drive Okada and Keke on the highway, endangering other road users is highly condemnable.
From the records, the FCT Administration has introduced deliberate policies to cushion the hardships being faced by Okada and Keke riders and other groups in the FCT so that they don’t exceed their boundaries. For those of them who happen to be IDPs, the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello magnanimously agreed and approved two designated hospitals – Asokoro and Wuse District Hospitals for them to get medication free of charge and this has been going on for the last three years. Also in the area of school enrolment, over 2,000 children in the various IDP locations have been enrolled in public schools in the FCT and provided with uniforms and books for them to be comfortable, which is some the reasons given by this group for coming to the FCT.
This is why it is disheartening to now see this group turn around and do things that are capable of destroying this security and comfort that attracted them to Abuja in the first place? No explanation is good enough for Okada and keke operators to take advantage of government’s magnanimity to drive against traffic, ride on highways, and endanger the lives of other road users.
Although the FCT Administration has shown over the years that it has zero tolerance for the fragrant abuse of law and order by this group with the clampdown and seizure of their vehicles by various task forces in the past. There is however need to find other ways of sanitizing the activities of this group as is the case in other parts of the country. The FCT Directorate of Road Traffic Services (DRTS) as regulators of vehicular operations in the FCT, should come up with a more agreeable arrangement to integrate these people and then regulate them. The DRTS should zone their operation based on the needs of commuters in the FCT.
Similarly, proper census needs to also be taken of commercial tricycle and motor cycle operators in the FCT to register them and integrate them into the ever expanding transportation landscape. Their biometric data should be collected after which they should be allocated to the areas agreed with their unions where they will only operate. In the event an area becomes fully occupied, they should be directed to go to the next estate and if somebody comes to transgress and enter their territory, they will know that this person doesn’t belong to them and take necessary action.
Those who have been to Lagos and other parts of the country will tell you that Abuja is the most beautiful city in Nigeria today and we must do everything necessary to promote sanity in the capital city.
Akilu wrote this piece from Durumi II, Gudu District, Abuja.