Abuja residents lament ban on Okada


By Akin Akande, Abuja
In what they have described as the return of Mallam Nasir el-Rufai era, residents of the Federal Housing Authority Lugbe, airport road, Abuja, have lamented the transportation trauma they have been subjected to as a result of the ban placed on commercial motorcyclists by security agencies of FCT administration.
The combined team of the Nigeria Police Force and Soldiers between have between last Wednesday and the weekend  stormed the estate to enforce the ban on motorcyclists.
The security agencies impounded hundreds of motorcycles, popularly known as “okada”, which however, caught the residents unaware.
A resident, Ibrahim Lado, said the law enforcement agents should have given the residents sufficient information on the planned ban rather than adopting a shocking strategy.
The residents appealed to the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, to provide alternative means of transportation before the situation would become a social security problem.
The ban on activities of commercial motorcyclists is part of the ongoing sanitation exercise in the FCT which is aimed at ridding the city of hoodlums.
At the weekend,   the  exercise which was coordinated by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) ejected over 1,000 hawkers, street traders and other unlawful operators from Wuse market.
The exercise also led to  the sealing off of TOTAL Service station along Herbert Macaulay Way near Berger Junction over alleged environmental infractions.
The station was sealed off for harbouring unauthorized business activities within its premises such as production and sale of sachet water, hawking of used (tokunbo) motor tyres, battery charging and others.
Besides that, the entire service station premises were so filthy that the AEPB team had to compel the station’s attendants to promptly clean up the place under his watch.
As early as 3.30am on Saturday night, officers of the AEPB enforcement squad, SURE-P personnel, Nigerian Police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps had taken positions at strategic places within the vicinity and along the roads leading to Wuse market preparatory to the commencement of the clean up exercise.
The sanitization exercise resulted in partial blockade of all the entry roads to the market. Interestingly, the exercise did not result to the closure of the market as lawful traders and buyers were allowed free access to the market for normal business activities.
Addressing newsmen during the exercise, Director of AEPB, Mr. Isa Shuaibu said that through the exercise over 1,000 hawkers, street traders and illegal elements operating in Wuse market, Berger junction, Zone two junction and other adjoining streets to the market. He assured that the operation would be sustained and warned hawkers, street traders and other illegal operators to steer off the market and its precincts or face arrest and prosecution.
He warned banks and other businesses bordering the market against condoning hawkers in front or around their offices stressing that AEPB would be left with no option than to seal off the office of any company found guilty of such illegal acts.
Mr. Shuaibu said that the sealing off of the TOTAL Service station should serve as a deterrent for other big companies condoning hawkers and street traders. In the course of yesterday’s exercise scores of hawkers were arrested and their wares confiscated.