Kwara State Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq on Thursday launched an operation uniform for commercial motorcyclists (Okada Riders) in the state, saying the step is to properly identify such riders as part of the government’s efforts to strengthen public safety.
The government had earlier set up a Transport Sanitisation Committee chaired by the state Commissioner for Works, Rotimi Iliasu, to look into ways of sanitising motorcyclists’ operation for an improved safety of the citizens.
The step was taken in collaboration with the Okada Riders Association of Nigeria (ORAN) Kwara state branch.
“The main reason we are launching this uniform is for identification and promotion of public safety. We have been receiving reports of cases of kidnappers reportedly using Okada riders as a means of achieving their devilish mission,” he said.
“How do we protect ourselves? We have to start by first identifying ourselves, giving out uniform and capturing their data at no cost. The government is bearing all this knowing that as long as transport operators and their operation are safe, then safety is ensured in the state.”
The Governor was represented by the Commissioner for Works.
He said what the administration is doing enjoys the association’s support, stressing that anyone could fall victims of kidnapping, including the riders themselves.
“Another aspect we are looking at and which also starts now is that for every commercial rider there will be an identity card which will be tied to their numbers on the given uniform. So that intending passenger can easily send a text to the number sighted on the uniform the affected rider is wearing. By doing this, he or she will be able to know the full identity of the riders,” he added.
“Again, if you want to pick Okada and not sure of who the rider is bearing in mind that he can be kidnapper, you can send the number of the rider you are boarding to anybody, if you end up missing it will be very easy to trace who has picked you. So it is a way to provide security.”
He said the kitting exercise is expected to last for two months, hoping to cover the entire parts of the state, while also enjoining the operators to help mobilise their colleagues to embracing the scheme.
The ceremony, which also saw the inauguration of the new executives of ORAN, was attended by other members of the sanitisation committee, including the Chairperson for the state Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS), Mrs. Folashade Omoniyi, and the Special Assistant on Security Aliyu Muyideen.
In her remarks, Omoniyi said the idea was to have a first-hand identity of the riders, and to issue them automated card, which she noted forms part of the administration’s efforts to go digital on everything.
“The government is also going to issue you identity cards which you can as well use to collect money in the bank. The idea is to bring digitalization into what we are doing. If we go digital it becomes very difficult for anyone to cut corners,” she said.
Aliyu, for his part, said the chief purpose the government has put this in place is to protect lives and properties of all and sundry.
He disclosed that with this new policy all commercial riders are expected to operate between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., adding that such will enable government to fish out criminal elements who take advantage of the dark hours to inflict pain on innocent ones.
Chief Gabriel Ajewole, President Okada Riders Association of Nigeria (ORAN), in his remarks, thanked the government for creating a conducive atmosphere for his members to operate, and for being particular about the safety of entire Kwarans.
“We thank the Governor for the conducive atmosphere he has created and for supporting us at all times. He is indeed a father to us. Even when some people were calling for proscription of Okada business sometimes after the 2019 elections, the Governor did not consider it, so we are grateful sir,” he said.
He enjoined his members to continue to be law abiding and supportive to government’s peace-seeking programmes in the state.