Governor Obiano set aside seven hundred and sixty five million naira(N765m) for Okada Riders in the state to enable them to purchase shuttle buses following the government’s decision to restrict them from operating in Awka, the state capital, and Onitsha, the Southeast commercial hub, fromJuly 1.
The funds will be accessed through the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA).Existing commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada operators, will take delivery of the buses once they deposit one hundred thousand naira with ASBA, undertaking to make payments every two weeks, according to the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, who in a statement disclosed that the interest-free loan can be repaid within a year and a half.
He said the shuttle buses will cost between seven hundred thousand naira and eight hundred thousand naira each.The first set of two hundred units of the one thousand 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 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.He noted that bus ownership will generate far more revenues for the present Okada riders because a motorcyclist is not allowed to have more than one passenger at a time, while a shuttle bus can carry as many as seven passengers, adding that the high rate of serious road accidents involving Okada riders and their passengers is another reason for the restriction.
The Commissioner pointed out that many robberies and other violent crimes throughout Nigeria have been traced to people using commercial motorcycles, stressing that the state will not allow anything to compromise its reputation as Nigeria’s safest state.The Information Commissioner disclosed that Anamba did not follow other Southeastern states to restrict Okada operations when they did because Obiano was developing a scheme to provide the people of the state with superior services and make the Okada operators more productive agents of the economy.
Meanwhile, the Anambra State empowerment programme for commercial motorcyclists has been generating reactions.
The chairman of the Okada Riders Association in the state, Jude Udegbe, described it as another evidence of Obiano’s human nature while the chairman of the state branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Jerry Nnubia, called it a welcome development which has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of Okada operators and reduce the crime rate in the state.
In his reaction , the chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the state, Comrade Ifeanyi Okechukwu, said it shows that the governor’s second tenure will witness a radical improvement in all sectors.