9 June 2016
Okada Riders Go On the Rampage in Freetown
Reports coming from Freetown say Okada riders have made road blocks burning tyres to obstruct the flow of traffic in protest against the recent ban on their movements in the central business district of Freetown.
At the intersection of Model and Circular Road, armed police personnel reportedly intervened firing teargas cannisters to repel the crowd of protesters and to dismantle the roadblocks set by the okada guys.
The okada riders have reportedly threatened to burn down any government vehicles that ply the roads.
Some of the ringleaders have been reportedly arrested by police and will soon appear in court on charges of riotous conduct.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE OKADA ISSUE IN FREETOWN.
By Sulaiman Forna
The government has recently ban Okada riding in the city and some other areas, and this has created an edgy situation in town as the riders continue to disrupt traffic. My concern is not about the ban. It’s the level of Lawlessness in the country and the pattern that has continued to occur when we look at the following examples on the ground:
It is on records where public servants and ministers have been busted for misbehaving in public and trading insults privately
Okada riders misbehaving, and breaking traffic rules and other traffic offences with impunity
Corruption and bribery that goes unpunished
Land grabbing on a massive scale that has created environmental problems in the city.
Illigal buildings in all open spaces in the city blocking potential waterways resulting in flooding in freetown.
People committing offenses with no consequences
Political violence in the SLPP since 2012 that has been ongoing in the country. No consequences for recent offences leading to death
Foreigners and business people getting duped and they can’t get their matters redress in the court of law.
Citizens that fall short of the law are remanded in prison for 2 to 3 yrs without having their cases heard in our courts
The list may continue. But there is one thing i will say about a society that want to progress. EVERY ACTION BY ANY CITIZEN TO DISRUPT THE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL nature of our country must also equally feel the consequences of their behaviours. We have allowed Lawlessness in every facets of our society to go unpunished for far too long.
RESPECT FOR THE THE LAW IS A KEY TO OUR NATION’S SURVIVAL. WE MUST ENSURE THAT OUR LAWS ARE SUPREME, AND SHOULD BIND ALL CITIZENS.
But because we continue to twist our laws to suit our convinience it creates a trait in every aspects of our aociety. People may have a tendency not to obey our laws simply because those who formulate them also break them with impunity. So who is really setting better examples for others to emulate.
IF WE WANT TO BRING CHANGE WE MUST LEAD BY EXAMPLE. I was impressed by President Koroma’s call for us to talk from now on in LEONES rather than in DOLLARS. I will discuss that in another post.
Now to the Okada business
In many Asian Pacific country’s such as Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand Okada business is thriving, and it also comes with it’s problems such as accidents, and breaking and obstructing traffic. They are indeed a menace in those country’s but i guess they are also very heavily regulated.
BANNING OKADA MAY NOT PRODUCE A POSITIVE RESULT. WHY
If we consider the rate of unemployment in the country Okada is a livelihood for unemployed young people, particularly those who were ex combatants. It has now become party of our income generation activity for many young unemployed people. Thus taking that away may not be the best approach.
WHAT THE TRANSPORT MINISTRY SHOULD DO.
Instead of banning Okada the government should heavily regulate the trade and ensure stiff penalties and fines are effected for those breaking the law.
Proper training in regards to traffic rules be effected
The Okada association should be involved in the process of regulation with a view that they show a duty of care to citizens and also their riders
I believe a collaborative approach should be an option the government can take to address the problem.
IN THE INTEREST OF THE PEOPLE*
Government Must Review Ban On Okadas.
BY Esq J.B. Jenkins-Johnston
I am not an Okada rider; nor do I use okadas; nor do I own an Okada Bike. But I am part of the Sierra Leone Community, and I have been listening very attentively to the arguments advanced both in favour and against the absolute Ban on Okada riders plying in the central Business district of Freetown.
Having looked at all the various arguments, concerns, complaints, and protests from all the various quarters, let me Say speaking for myself THAT I AM COMPLETELY AGAINST THIS BLANKET BAN, for a number of reasons.
(1) okadas provide a very useful service to a vast number of citizens who use them for all sorts of purposes, including going to and coming from work;going to and coming from school; going shopping; running quick errands such as delivery of letters and parcels etc, etc and they are much quicker than taxis or poda-podas.
(2) Okada provide employment for a very large number of young men who were hitherto unemployed and engaged in criminal activities, and this Ban to my mind means putting most of them out I work and returning them to their previous activities.
(3) A substantial number of citizens have complained that since the ban came into effect they have been seriously constrained in moving about whether it’s going to work, school, visiting or shopping because taxis are in short supply and take more than twin or three times the time an Okada would have taken, an besides the taxi drivers are now exploiting the situation by putting up then fares and demanding two-way, three-way etc from their passengers.
I would be the first to concede that some Okada riders are lawless and uncontrollable, but is that any reason to take such a drastic and high-handed step against all o them And in the process cause the whole public who use their services great inconvenience and aggravation?
In Krio, we say, if you fall ah baboo for Im worwor, you go beat am sotay you kill am: and also bad bush nor day for troway bad pekin”
In other words, it is not because you have a child who is incessantly troublesome and difficult, that mean you should met out to that child violent and extreme punishment to its detriment. If you ban the okadas from upgun all the way lumley, then where do you expect them to work now?
In my view, what the minister has done is to met out extreme and violent punishment to ALL OKADA RIDERS, (Good & Bad) and also in the process punishing the significant number of citizens who badly need their services. This is totally Unfair and what about the wives and families of the Okada riders who depend on them for support? Do they also deserve to be punished? I don’t think so!
Finally as a lawyer, I think we should look at the legality of the whole thing. I know that movement on our roads is governed by the road traffic Act and the road traffic regulations, but I am not sure whether the Minister of Internal Affairs is empowered under those two (2) pieces of legislation to impose such a ban on Okada riders or maybe he can tell us under which law the ban was imposed.
I would respectfully suggest that our Ministers and other government officials make sure they are acting within the law whenever they want to exercise their “power”, because the Government itself must always ensure that it is acting within the law at all times, as the government is not above the law.
From my understanding of the Ban, okadas are not supposed to work I the central Business district so then why include spur road, wilkinson road, main motor road, Congo cross, jomo Kenyatta road, are they really I the central business district? I would suggest that these roads/streets be excluded from the ban, and that the ban be totally relaxed after 8pm each day, to take effect at 6am the next day.
I would therefore urge the Government to urgently review and modify this ban on Okada riders as I think it is unfair, unjust and is causing far too much trouble to substantial nine of citizens who have caused no trouble to anyone, and just wish to move about the city in pursuit of their normal business. If any Okada rider acts outside the law let him be punished, but you cannot punish everyone, including those who have done nothing wrong.
The Government is like the father in any family. When your child/children misbehave, you punish them, but you must always temper justice with mercy! And make sure you don’t punish an innocent person.
The fact remains that many road commuters depend on Okada to fast track their movement. But wait a little, the time when there was no Okada riding business was the city or whole country not in normal state? This is just an emerging socio-economic factor. We can move as a nation without Okada. Though am not supporting a total ban of the business. As a nation, lets give a proper facelift of the central business district of the city. Okada business must be regulated. We also need safety from them. They are not living to people’s expectations. Thinking that that the only superb way of eking a living my the youthful generation of those who have chosen such trade, is making them pompous to beleive that it is their right.
I am just suggesting that after putting these guys in serious control, the next step by the Minister is to handle commercial drivers. I pause and delighted to further discuss these issues.