From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The national body of commercial tricycle and motorcycle riders has given the Lagos State a 21-day ultimatum to release confiscated tricycles and motorcycles, as well as detained members or risk a massive protest that would ground activities in the state.
The association, on the platform of United Commercial Keke-Napep and Motorcycle Riders Association of Nigeria, decried that over 4,700 tricycles and motorcycles have been seized, while over 1,300 of their members have been arrested and detained, so far.
The union, led by its National President, John Obozorian, briefed journalists at a press conference, yesterday, at the Labour House in Abuja.
Obosorian said: “The present spate of stopping our members from performing their legitimate duties in some local government areas in Lagos State is disturbing and worrisome, and it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. This has the tendency of increasing crime rate if not properly handled.
“As the main umbrella workers body in Nigeria, we respectfully call on the Nigeria Labour Congress to wade into these unfortunate decisions of the Lagos State Government. Many of our members have been arrested, detained without allowing bail and their motorcycles impounded.
“Those affected are facing terrible trauma and some of them have been hospitalised. It is imperative to let you know that most of the motorcycles impounded were made available to the detailed riders on higher purchase basis.
“As a mark of respect to the Nigeria Labour Congress, we deem it imperative to draw your attention to this unwelcome situation. It is our intention to give the Lagos State Government a 21 days’ ultimatum, to release our arrested members in Lagos State and handover the impounded motorcycles to those concerned, but first, we deemed it very important to intimate you of our action plan.
“We shall similarly, if Lagos State Government refuses to listen to the voice of reason, we shall stage a massive protest and shut down Lagos transportation system until the government does the needful.”
The union leader charged the government to employ a data based system that would capture all commercial tricycle and motorcycle operators in the state, in order to fight insecurity.
“Our main responsibility is to help in transporting human and materials to all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, with particular focus on where motor vehicles find it difficult; we have been performing our duties within the ambit of the laws in Nigeria.
“Presently, our association, which is the only recognised one in Nigeria, established to provide for the welfare of motorcycle and Keke NAPEP riders, create job opportunities for millions of Nigerians, thereby drastically reducing the rate of joblessness and criminality in the country. We also contribute our quota to the social and economic development of Nigeria.
“Granted that just like any other profession and occupation in this country, be it the medical profession, law, accounting, the public services, just to mention a few, we, also, have some bad eggs in our system. So far, we have left no stone unturned in reporting anyone found wanting in our profession to members of the law enforcement agencies- this, we shall continue to do unabated.
“The government also should endeavour to create a database for us, just like is being practiced in Ero and Anambra State. This will regulate the activities of criminals who pose as Okada riders or use motorcycles to commit all sorts of atrocities. Not having a database is tantamount to inviting crime,” he said.