It all started as a rumour that the state government will shutdown telecoms services in the state until the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai during a radio programme confirmed that the network services will be shut down in the state which according to him was to achieve successful military operations against bandits terrorising innocent citizens of the state.
However, the commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security of Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan on Wednesday, 29th September, 2021 during a press conference formally announced the implementation of the measures being put in place to support security agencies in the state.
On modalities to achieve the measures, Aruwan said the state government formally requested that the federal government shutdown telecom services in parts of the state identified by security agencies.
According to the commissioner, “With effect from Thursday, 30 September, 2021, there is a complete ban on the use of motorcycles (Okada), for commercial or personal purposes, for three months in the first instance, ban on possession of or wielding of dangerous weapons. Tricycles are allowed to operate only from 6 am to 7 pm. All tricycles must remove all curtains. Movement of all tricycles are restricted from dusk till dawn (7 pm to 6 am), all vehicles used for commercial transport must be painted in yellow and black withinA
‘’Cessation of weekly markets in the frontline local government areas of Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Chikun, Igabi, Kajuru and Kawo weekly market of Kaduna North local government.”
However, the ban for motorcycles and restriction of tricycles to a particular time has continued to cause untold hardship to residents while the shutdown of telecoms services has practically crippled business (online and offline) as well as the flow of information.
In Zaria, residents have continued to trek longer distances from home to their workplaces, market, and other places of business following the non-availability of motorcycles and the high cost of boarding tricycles known as (Keke NAPEP) in which prices skyrocket.
Residents who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend noted that the ban of commercial motorcyclists from operating in the state has led to serious hardship, forcing them to trek long distances when they are going about their daily activities.
A resident of Tudun Jukun, Hassan Shuibu said it has not been easy for him since the order came to effect, as he lives far away from his workplace.
He said from Tudun Jukun, his place of abode to Queen FM radio in Tudun Wada his workplace is about 4 km, and he has to cover the distance daily.
Shuaibu also lamented the hike in transport fares by NAPEP operators, decrying that “immediately after the order, these commercial riders increased their fares unjustly, it is worrisome since the government has not hiked the prices of petrol neither do they increase levy while the routine distance remains same. So I wonder where the increase came from.”
A hotelier, Joseph John, said the situation is so pathetic for him because, apart from the ban on commercial motorcycles which easily convey him to his destination, NAPEP tricyclists were also banned from operating from 7 pm, which according to him is the time he resumes his duty.
“I work in a hotel, and I am always on permanent night shift, I resume duty daily from 8 pm to 8 am and live in Graceland, about 5km to my working place in Sabo Gari, Each time I am going to work I have to cover that distance on foot.
‘’On the first day of the ban, I waited for a commercial motorcycle from 7 pm till about 9 pm before I realised I could not get any rider to convey me to my workplace so I resorted to trekking. I can not forget that day so easily. I was issued a query for reporting to work late,” he stated.
However, a NAPEP operator, Salisu Ibrahim, (not real name) said the increase in transport fare was a result of unnecessary extortion by security agents who, according to him, were milking them since the state government order.
“We have to give them something because most of our papers are not intact, this is because we don’t have to complete our registration. So we have to buy our way or risks going to their office, once you are taken to their office you will pay between N5,000 to 10,000 that is why we don’t mind tipping them with two to three hundred to continue operations, this is why we have to increase our fares to cover the apparent loses, he stressed.
The situation is not any different in Kaduna metropolis and environs, as residents of Television and Sabon Tashan suburbs of Kaduna town lamented the ban of tricycles operators, saying the ban has affected their daily activities and businesses.
A resident, Samuel Onah, called on the government to provide alternatives to ease the difficulties faced by the residents.
“I commend the Kaduna State Government for the measures to end insecurity in the state, the ban is okay but the hardship and associated difficulties people are facing are becoming unbearable. NAPEP don’t go into communities, they only operate on highways.
“Now how can someone move around? Is only commercial motorcycles that can carry you anywhere. Government should find another alternative for us to at least reduce our daily sufferings.”
Another resident of Sabo Tashan, Mama Grace said the ban has brought another challenge for her and her children.
“With the ban of Okada, how can I carry my children to school? Okadas riders were transporting my children to school with little charges but now we are forced to use NAPEP, which is more expensive.
“Some of us are not mobile, the school my children attend is very far from home, and only Okada can take them to school easily,” she said.
A tricycle operator, Julius Sambo, said with the ban, he can’t feed his family anymore.
Though he commended the government’s efforts in tackling insecurity, he said it has not been easy for him.
“I collected the tricycle on higher purchase arrangement and now the ban, how can I pay the owner and also feed my family?
“The owner of the tricycle will go with all the money I paid to him earlier if I can meet up anymore because that is the agreement. The time restriction has not been helpful.
“To feed my family is the problem now considering the economic situation in the country. The restriction of time of tricycles is not bad, it is a good development because we need peace for development to take place in Kaduna state,” he said.
Persons living with disabilities said their situation is now worse with the ban.
The chairman of Joint National Association of Persons with Disability, Mr Suleiman Abdullazeez, said that the ban on Okada has added to their problem.
“I went to the filling station to buy fuel for my motorcycle which I use for my movement as a cripple man, but the fuel attendant refused to sell it for me, I felt very bad because without my motorcycle I cannot move,” he said.
He, therefore, called on the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam el-rufai to consider persons with disabilities, saying that the pains are too much on them.
For Chukwu Rose who resides in Narayi, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State said that “since government placed a ban on Okada, I have been suffering going to town for my business, before the ban, I use to spend N200 daily going to Kaduna town for my business, but now I spend N400 every day. I mostly have to trek for long before I will see Keke or bus because passengers are much.”
Another resident of Narayi, Dorathy Emmanuel, said since the government shut down telecommunication services, it has not been easy for her because she sells her goods online.
“My customers can no longer reach me on the phone, I am struggling to feed, I don’t have anybody to help me. I am appealing to the government to please consider us,” she said.
Abdulsalam Mohammed Kazeem said “ I commended the Kaduna state government for taking the drastic measures in the fight against insecurity. I wish the federal government will place a complete embargo on the importation of (Bajaj) motorcycles because those bandits use this type of motorcycle”.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Government said it regrets the severe strain and inconvenience these measures have caused peaceful and law-abiding citizens appealing for their understanding and cooperation, saying ‘’difficult times have demand difficult decisions.’’
KDSG added that the measures were adopted purely in the interest of our collective safety and security and to aid our brave forces in their fight against these mindless criminals. Too many lives have been lost, and too many families have been shattered. Small groups of wicked persons cannot continue to hold us to ransom and force us to live in perpetual fear.