To mitigate the incursion of commercial tricycle and motorcycle operators into the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) highways and other unapproved areas, and restrict their activities to the suburbs, the FCT Administration is working to introduce Riders’ Certification, allocate areas to operators as well as assign routes for the group.
Speaking during the meeting of FCT officials with the leadership of the National Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association (NACTOMORAS) for FCT and 19 Northern States, FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, also assured members that he is willing to direct for the release of all impounded tricycles (aka Keke Napep) as long as the operators were ready to partner with the administration for orderly conduct.
Bello added that tricycle and motorcycle owners association represents a very important economic bloc in Nigeria today that provides needed services for the people. He noted that a substantial population of this country rely on motorized tricycles for mobility and for the movement of goods and services.
The Minister however regretted that Keke and Okada Operators who are increasingly flooding the city for security and comfort, have failed to abide by the agreements reached between the riders association and the relevant secretariats of the FCT Administration.
He urged the group to abide by these agreements and restrict their activities to only the approved areas, saying, “Nobody wants to prevent anybody from doing his work. All of us, including the FCT Minister are in Abuja to look for food. Today, if there is no food in Abuja, all of us will go back to our villages. But we have to carry out our activities in a way that is acceptable and within the regulations,” Bello said.
The Director, FCT Directorate of Road Traffic Services, Aliyu Bodinga, in his brief at the meeting revealed that the procurement for the Riders Certification Card is on process.
Bodinga said arrangements have been concluded with the Associations to collect the biometric data of all Keke and Okada operators in the FCT, after which they will be allocated the designated zones where they will carry out their operations.
He said, although the Abuja Masterplan did not make provisions for Okada and Keke to operate in the FCT, the FCT Administration decided to integrate them into the system by allowing them to operate only in the suburbs and estates due to the critical position they occupy in the transportation value chain.
According to the DRTS Director, “Because of the interest of the present administration in people that are at the grassroots, we came up with a more agreeable arrangement to integrate these people and then regulate them and zone their operations based on our needs. We will ask the association to come and register. If an area is occupied, they will be directed to go to the next estate. If somebody comes to transgress and enter their territory, they will know that this person doesn’t belong to us. We will do a survey to know the requirement in the approved area.”
The Director said the DRTS as enforcers of the traffic laws in the FCT, have met severally with the Keke and Okada associations where they agreed on so many things and a joint statement was made with the Commissioner of Police. He said the group has stated their willingness to abide by the rules and regulations governing operation of Keke Napep and Okada within the territory as well as educate their members to restrict themselves within the approved areas of operation.
“We went round the city from Area one to Apo, to Gwarimpa, up to the Airport. We delivered lectures and appealed to their conscience. We don’t want to arrest you any longer. Please simply obey the rules. Don’t go against the traffic. Don’t operate on the highway, express way. If you must operate, go to the suburbs 500 meters away,” he said.
Also speaking at the occasion, the National Coordinator of a Buhari/Osibanjo re-election campaign group, Project 4+4, Garba Musa Bello, said the association felt it necessary to intervene in the relationship between the FCTA and the tricycle operators to ensure that the wrong signal is not sent to other states about the government, especially with elections around corner.
The Coordinator said Project 4+4 is having meetings with Okada and Keke operators in different states to ensure that they are able to secure 18 million votes for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
FCT Transport Secretary, Kayode Opeifa also emphasized the need for law and order in Okada and Keke operations, saying a city without law and order is a failed city.
Opeifa said the FCT Administration will not close its eyes to a situation where operators will take advantage of government’s magnanimity to drive against traffic as well as ride on highways, endangering the lives of other Nigerians.
He said government is doing everything possible to take care of their interest and lift them to the next level possible by giving them all the needed support.