7th September, 2012
A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Shina Senny Shoremekun, who took up commercial motorcycling for a living after a fruitless search for job, has appealed to the Lagos State Government to rescind its decision on the newly signed Road Traffic Law, saying he has no other place to go.
Shoremekun, a father of two children, was among the eight graduates and five other commercial motorcycle riders, known as Okada riders, who spoke on their new challenges in relation to the law.
A 2009 graduate of Economics with Second Class Honours (Upper Division), Shoremekun completed his National Youth Service Corps scheme in Cross River State on 5 July, 2011.
His credentials made available to P.M.NEWS show that he was a brilliant student while in school, but getting a job after serving his fatherland became a big challenge.
“Since my graduation I began to look for job to no avail,” he told P.M.NEWS.
Shoremekun, who plies the Toll Gate-Oshodi area of Lagos, said he first got a job with an insurance firm and worked for months without pay.
When things did not go as planned and all hopes almost lost, he decided to take up riding commercial motorcycle.
“Since I began, things started changing. I can now boast of making between N8,000 and N10,000 on days. I am truly prepared to work. Rather than wait for a job or beg on the street and become a menace to the society, I can now solve my financial problems and even give money to others, even though Okada business is very tough and would change your looks and skin colour.
“But suddenly, we heard that the state governor had banned the riding of Okada on the highway. If this truly happens, where do they expect us to go?
“We don’t have anywhere to go and I am speaking for myself and other Okada riders, especially the ones that ply the highway. I can tell you that most of us are graduates while others were businessmen who were earlier sent out of business by the same governor when he demolished part of the Oshodi market.”
He said the new law would adversely affect many of the riders as it would send them out of business.
“What does the government want us to do at this stage? We cannot steal and do not have other options to earn a living. So the government must think twice.
“I want to use this medium to appeal to our governor that if he cannot amend the law to accommodate us, he should forget the law,” he said, adding that if there were other things the government wanted them to do, they were ready to do them.
“This is the only means through which we keep body and soul together and also feed our families. Last week, we caught someone who snatched a phone while riding Okada and we handed him over to the police,” he added.
Some of his colleagues also accused the government of hypocrisy, saying public functionaries often gave out helmets to them even when they knew they had bad intention against them.
He also denied that Okada riders were robbers as claimed by the government, giving instances where they assisted the police combat crime.
They also recalled that many of the politicians often gave out motorcycles as a way to alleviate poverty. “Where do they want us to work with it?” they asked.
Some people have argued that Okada riders do not obey traffic rules, but the Okada riders have heaped the blame on police officers whom they accused of swooping on them for no reason.
They told P.M NEWS that when they are arrested, they are forced to pay between N5,000 and N10,000 or their motorcycles would be confiscated.