By Yinka Kolawole
Osun State Government has given a two-week ultimatum to commercial motorcyclists popularly known as okada riders in the state to “document their members, register their bikes, issue them tags and reflective jackets with bold prints behind showing the different areas and units of operation,” or risk suspension of their operations.
The duration of commercial motorcycle operators has also been limited; to now operate from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
The state Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, made this known at a meeting with the leadership of the Associations of Commercial Motorcycle Operators in the state.
He disclosed that the decision was part of efforts to firm up security in the state following the recent looting and vandalisation of government and private properties as well as general disruption of peace in the state.
Oyetola expressed shock and displeasure at the way motorcycle operators allowed themselves to be used to cause unprecedented damage in the state in the last few days.
While addressing the representatives of the association, Oyetola said: “Security reports revealed that your members played major roles in the destabilisation and breakdown of law and order that necessitated the declaration of curfew in the state. Your members were the ones who allegedly ferried looters from house to house to perpetrate evil. They were the ones who were paid to transport hoodlums to destroy people’s businesses.
“I can also confirm to you that even the attempt on my life was aided by some of your members, who, after our escape from the mob, gave my convoy a long chase and attempted to block our movement at different points. We also have security reports that some of your members are involved in all forms of illicit activities like robbery, kidnapping, and ritual killings.
“Considering all these, the government cannot pretend that all is well because the primary duty of the government is to ensure the security of life and property of its citizens. That is why we are mandating all the various associations of commercial motorcycle operators in the state to document their members, register their bikes, issue them tags and reflective jackets with bold prints behind showing the different areas and units of operation.
“This exercise is expected to be concluded within two weeks from the time of this meeting. The time has come to separate the wheat from the chaff, and as leaders of the associations, please ensure this is done. Otherwise, the government will have no other option but to suspend motorcycle operations in the state.”
However, the governor was quick to add that “the government is aware that bike business is a source of livelihood to many and not all of you are criminals, but the events of the past few days have shown that the criminal elements among you have become a threat to the peace of Osun State.
“I also appeal to you as leaders of the associations to advise your members to desist from allowing themselves to be used for criminal activities.”
In their responses, the representatives of the various associations of commercial motorcycle in the state took turns to apologise to the governor for the role some of their members played in causing destruction across the state, and promised to comply with the directives of the state government.