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Group Warns Amaechi Over Ban Of Okada

Group Warns Amaechi Over Ban Of Okada

THE ban of the ubiquitous commercial motorcycle taxi operation in Rivers State, popularly known as Okada, has drawn the ire of a civil society group, which is claiming that over one million citizens are at risk of being crushed by hunger by the government action.

While banning Okada operation in the state, Governor Chibuike Amaechi's administration claimed that they yielded to the outcry of the political sovereigns who said they were no longer comfortable with the wrecklessness of the commercial motorcycle operators.

The state Information Commissioner, Ogbonna Nwuke, also cited security reasons for the government action. According to the commissioner, there were security reports indicating that Okada operators were fueling the crime situation in the state.

However, Grassroots Initiative for Peace and Democracy (GIPD) at the weekend seriously frowned at the decision of government, saying it is a demonstrarion of insensitivity by the the government. Executive Director of the group, Akinaka Richard, said in Port Harcourt, the state capital, yesterday, ''we want goverment to know that, the Okada business is a source of livelyhood for at least 800,000 people excluding their dependants in Rivers state and as such banning Okada is making these number of people jobless''.

''Conservatively, not less than two million people survive through the Okada business. It is also a veritable source of revenue to local government councils and some organised interest groups. The ban which takes effect from December 31, 2008 will lead to more criminality as against the anticipated reduction of criminality'', the group added.

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According to them, ''it is important for us to note that, government as an agent of the common wealth [state] is duty bound to make life easier and moderate for the ordinary man. rather than, enbarking on programmes that will improve the living standard of the people and providing job for the army of unemployed, the Rivers government has resorted to increasing the rate of unemployment and inflicting hardship on the popular people''

Continuing, they said the alleged unruly attituds of the Okada riders was not sufficient for government to throw them out of business, adding, ''we will like to advise government to organise orientation programmes for them and provide them with safety elements as it is obtainable in Cross River State''.


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