Anambra Residents Adjust To Life Without Okada

Anambra people, particularly residents of Greater Onitsha and Awka affected by the restriction of Commercial Motorcycle operation popularly called `okada’ as a means of transportation have since moved on.

This is following on the heels of the effective take off of the order from Sunday, July 1, when Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra directed the commencement of the exercise.

Ndi Anambra have since resorted to other alternative means of transportation like patronising tricycles and the mini buses.

Even the mini buses are still adjusting to cope with upsurge in the number of passengers now assessing their services.

But one interesting feature observed has been that rowdiness, hassles and bustle associated with activities of the operations have since disappeared.

Usual traffic jams at strategic locations in the two cities – Onitsha and Awka — now flow much more freely, unlike what transpired in the past, when they appear to constitute nuisance on major street corners, roundabouts and mini stations/parks.

The traffic jams occur mainly in the mornings as people and children go to school and in the evenings at close of work and markets.

“There is no doubt that this is a return of sanity to the roads, particularly in the two cities, where the exercise has taken off,’’ remarked passersby.

A road user also remarked that the absence of the horde of the operators give impression of two cities on special holiday.

For many, it remains a mix bag because while appreciable number of people welcome the policy as being long overdue, a few have been rather critical.

It is obvious, however, that there would be the need to massively increase the number of buses to cope with increased passenger patronage.

“There is still a lot to be done to fill the vacuum created by the suspension of commercial motorcycle operation in the affected cities’’.

In reaction to the situation since the commencement of the policy in Awka, Victor Okon, a Commercial Motorcyclist, who operated at the Eke-Amawbia axis, said even though he was affected by the policy, he had taken it in good faith.

“I have moved to Nise area, where the restriction is not currently applicable’’.

He said he had since relocated his business from Amawbia to Nise to enable him to raise enough money to access the government shuttle bus scheme through the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA) in future.

Arinze Mmaduka, a Dealer in electronic equipment, described commercial motorcycle operators as “a menace to society that needed to be wiped out’’.

He applauded the restriction placed by government, pointing out that motorcycle as a mode of transportation was responsible for about 90 per cent orthopaedic accident cases in major hospitals in Anambra.

Mr Mmaduka, then, commended Gov. Willie Obiano for rescuing the people of the state from the menace of commercial motorcyclists.

“With implementation of the policy, road users will now enjoy easy ride around Awka.

“I want to thank Gov. Obiano for trying to make Anambra to look like other cities in Nigeria. As you can see, with implementation of the restriction on Okada operation, the town is now calm and vehicles now move freely on the roads.

“The idea will also compel some of them who were formerly artisans like mechanics, plumbers and electricians to return to their former trade.’’

Matthew Okeke, a transporter, hailed the initiative of the state government as this would reduce robbery and the rising rate of motorcycle accidents on the roads.

He observed that within the past few days of implementation of the policy, flash points like Amawbia junction by expressway, Y-junction by Nwalusi roads that were usually marred by traffic gridlocks as a result of motorcyclists’ recklessness, could now be plied by motorists without hitches.

A Community Leader, Ikechukwu Nwugwa, has urged commercial motorcycle operators affected by the policy to key into the government’s shuttle bus intervention scheme, so as to continue with their businesses.

He notes: “With the implementation of the policy, residents and road users alike now enjoy serene environment, unlike the usual `hassle and bustle’ caused by commercial motorcyclists.”

Mrs Nwadiogbu Oluebube, a Secretary with one of the Mass Transit Companies, enjoined government to speed up the introduction of mass transit buses, shuttle bus scheme and any other mode that will facilitate mass mobility.

Mass mobility buses will ply remote areas of Awka and Onitsha environs to ameliorate the problems being faced by commuters residing in such places.

A resident of Onitsha, Ikenna Omeze, enjoined government to strive to create a major transport network within the 3-3 axis of Greater Onitsha because of the dense population in the area. (MOI)

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