Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has set aside N765m for commercial motorcyclists, better known as Okada riders, in the state to enable them purchase shuttle buses, following the government’s decision to restrict them from operating in Awka, the state capital, and Onitsha, the commercial hub of the state from July 1st.
The governor said the funds would be accessed through the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA).
He said existing commercial motorcyclists will take delivery of the buses once they deposit N100,000 with ASBA, and an undertaking to make payments every two weeks.
Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, who disclosed this in a press statement, said the interest-free loan can be repaid within a year and a half.
He said: “The shuttle buses will cost between N700,000 and N800,000 each. The first set of 200 units of the 1,000 buses in the scheme will arrive in the state anytime from now from Japan.”
Mr Adinuba said that the Obiano administration decided to phase out Okada riders’ operations in Awka and Onitsha so as to economically empower the operators and quicken the process of turning the state into a modern place like Dubai.
“A situation where some members of the public have been made to believe that they cannot rise beyond the level of Okada riders is unfair and offends good conscience.
“Governor Obiano wants commercial motorcyclists to get to the next level by becoming bus owners. Bus ownership will generate far more revenues for the present Okada riders because whereas a motorcyclist is not allowed to have more than one passenger at a time, a shuttle bus can carry as many as seven passengers.”
Adinuba said that another reason for the decision to phase out Okada operations in the state’s two leading cities is the plan to make Anambra State the “Dubai of Africa within the next few decades, a status which no place can attain by making Okada dominate the entire landscape”.
He also stated that the high rate of serious road accidents involving Okada riders and their passengers is another reason for the restriction.
He declared: “Up to 70 per cent of accident cases in Orthopedic and other hospitals in Anambra State and beyond involve commercial motorcycle crashes, and it is not right for any government which cares for the welfare and future of its citizens not to do anything about this phenomenon considering that the safety of every individual is the primary constitutional responsibility of the state.
“Many robberies and other violent crimes throughout Nigeria have been traced to people using commercial motorcycles. We do not want anything which can compromise our hard earned reputation as Nigeria’s safest state.”