Jun 18, 2013

Okada Ban: Bicycles To The Rescue In Benin

                           •A heap of imported fairly used bicycles in Benin this morning. PHOTO: JETHRO IBILEKE

Following the ban on the use of motorcycles and tricycles both for private and commercial purposes in Benin City metropolis of Edo State, southsouth Nigeria, stranded commuters have resorted to the use of bicycles as alternative means of getting to their various destinations.

Hundreds of other commuters who could not get spaces in the commuter buses plying the routes resorted to trekking.

While bicycles dealers and repairers are reaping the gains from the ban on commercial motorcycle operators, their counterparts in the motorcycles sub-sector of the transport industry have all their shops closed due to non patronage.Bicycle dealers at Ugbague Street revealed that their businesses picked up Monday morning as buyers came to buy bicycles, just as bicycle repairers that have been redundant due to long years of poor patronage, brought their expertise to bear as they were busy repairing old bicycles for their owners.

It was learnt that a bicycle now costs between N14,000 and N35,000, depending on their sizes and quality, as against the old price of N10,000,

Some bicycle dealers were also seen bringing imported fairly used bicycles to the state from overseas to stock their stores.

One of such dealers, Nkenna Chukwu, who bought 80 bicycles from abroad, said he decided to buy them to meet the demands of prospective buyers.

Another dealer at Ugbague who was too busy to talk to press due to upsurge of customers, said he decided to import new brand of bicycles to meet the demands of his customers.

Chairman of motorcycle dealers association, Edo State chapter, Daniel Chukwukere, said his members decided to close their shops due to the ban on the activities of commercial motorcycle operators in Benin metropolis.

Chukwukere who put the numerical strength of the association at over 2000, disclosed that they were indebted to banks from which they got loans to finance their business, adding that some of them were also indebted to their various landlords.

He called on Governor Adams Oshiomhole to temper justice with mercy by extending the deadline on the ban on motorcycles to January next year, without which he said their investments were heading for doom.

Also speaking, Chairman of commercial tricycle operators, Sylvester Odeh, said they were still negotiating with the state government on the need to give them more time.

Meanwhile, some security operatives, specifically men of the Nigerian Army, have flagrantly flouted government’s directives on the ban on motorcycles as means of transportation in the city.

Chairman of the State Committee on War Against Indiscipline (WAI), Babatunde Olukonga, disclosed that compliance with the directive was at about 85 percent.

He however decried the non-compliance by some security personnel.

Olukonga disclosed that military personnel riding motorcycles also threatened to fight those trying to enforce the order.