The Plateau Government Friday banned the operation of motorcycles in Jos and Bukuru metropolis, citing the security situation in the state capital as a reason for the action.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr Abraham Yiljap, announced the ban at a news conference after an emergency State Executive Council meeting presided over by Gov. Jonah Jang.
Yiljap said that the ban was with ``immediate effect".
``From yesterday right up to today, discussions were held and a definite decision was taken that with immediate effect, the operations of ``okada” as we know them or motorcycle riding has been banned. ”
While justifying the ban, Yiljap alleged that some attacks in the metropolis were carried out or aided through the use of motorcycles but noted that some alternatives had been provided to ease the transportation challenges the citizens would face.
``The issue of ``okada” riding has been a very long drawn one as far as the security situation in the state is concerned and this is one area to further the security of the state as well as concretise some peace that we have, to bring about orderliness in transportation within Jos and Bukuru metropolis.
``This order is with immediate effect and that means the law enforcement agencies will be expected to comply with this law by checking those who might want to disregard it in any way.
``We are hoping that we will have the full cooperation of the citizens of Plateau State and then the city will be made more modern by the use of the alternatives that have been provided by the government.
``The government is calling on private citizens who can, to also buy modern systems of transportation so that they can ease the transportation challenges of the people of the state. This way, we will continue to reduce crime as well as make our state to be very orderly and very peaceful. ”
Contributing, the Commissioner for Transport, Abdulhameed Gamzaki, said that the ban on motorcycle operations also covered both private and commercial motorcycles, saying that it was difficult to differentiate between the two when used to commit crime.
Gamzaki said that the ban might be reviewed over time when the security situation improved and appealed to private motorcycle owners to bear with government as the security of lives and property took precedence over their convenience.
``Motorcycle riders in the state have encouraged a lot of criminal acts and insecurity in the state; government has embarked on the purchase of 300 taxi cabs and 500 tricycles for distribution to citizens of the state to ease the transportation system.''
He said that the ban would be reveied as soon as the security situation in the state improved, but insisted that for now the ban would cover all categories of motorcycle owners.
``This (ban) probably is going to be reviewed over time but for now, with the present insecurity in the state, you cannot distinguish which rider is commercial and which rider is for private use. Therefore, the ban is generally affecting every motorcycle rider.
``Even the crime being committed in the state, you cannot say who is the commercial rider. In most places, they just saw a cyclist, they came and threw something. So you cannot particularly differentiate.
``We are quite aware of the fact that there are some of our civil servants who used the motorcycle as a great value to them but the security situation supersedes such consideration.''
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill banning commercial motorcycle operations in the state capital was passed in 2010 by the state House of Assembly and subsequently signed into law by Gov. Jonah Jang in April 2010.
However, efforts by the task force to enforce the ban precipitated a full-scale conflict which resulted in the deaths of some operators as well as police personnel with scores injured.
The crisis also led to a sharp division among heads of security agencies particularly between the police and the military Special Task Force (STF) maintaining security in the state.