Exit Okada, Enter Restoration Cabs
There is a sudden calm and refreshing coolness on the roads and streets of Yenagoa capital of Bayelsa State. A breathe of fresh air since the exit of commercial motor-cycles popularly known as “Okada” on 1st September, 2012 following the government ban on motor-cycles as a means of transportation in Yenagoa. For many Bayelsans the ban had been long overdue in view of the road hazards caused buy “Okada” drivers in the Metropolis. They see the government’s move is a welcome development. The only problem they say is the dearth of adequate roads within the capital city. Some people are also cynical as they observe that only a handful of the government taxis are seen on the road on the first day of the commencement of the new transport policy in Bayelsa State.
There is no doubt that the Henry Seriake Dickson administration means to do what they say as the “Okada” which he promised as has taken effect in Bayelsa State with the successful launching of 200 Restoration Cabs and 150 Tri-cycles by the Governor in Yenagoa on Friday, 31st August, 2012 as part of his transport policy for the development of a new Bayelsa State.
Before the launching of the Restoration Cabs, Governor Dickson who had earlier on the same day, won a law suit brought against him by the Governorship candidate of the Acton Congress of Nigeria at the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, used the occasion to dedicate his victory to Bayelsans and expressed gratitude to God for the good things that have continued to happen to the State, particularly his victory at the Court of Appeal. Hear him: “Let me thank you all and appreciate your support, your solidarity and your resilience and above all, also for your belief in the endless possibilities of our new Bayelsa. Let me also say, before I come specifically on this transport policy, that our policy of accommodation of various political views, of various political players has not changed. And I want to use this opportunity to call on all Bayelsans to work with us, to move our great state forward. Today’s victory belongs to you all. It doesn’t belong to me and my deputy governor or party. It belongs to all of us. So I congratulate you all for what has happened”.
Speaking on the new transport system in the state, Governor Dickson said that the Restoration Cabs as we have all seen, are quite comfortable and safe for our people, promising that he would bequeath a transportation system that is second to none; and that the aspiration of this administration “is to turn this place to another London, because very soon people would be trooping here on tourism, on investment or even to live here. While we are investing in security to make Yenagoa and our state safe, while we are investing on infrastructure to deliver world class infrastructure, we also must provide world class transportation system. And this is why your government is very serious about having an airport and very soon work will commence even on that to open up the state in collaboration with the federal authorities and that is why we are working very hard even to up and have a deep sea port”.
The Governor said further that the ban on Okada is an act of the law itself because the House of Assembly passed a bill which he also signed into law. He therefore cautioned the beneficiaries, saying that “these vehicles are not intended to be private vehicles for your use as “big men”, the newest big men in the state. You are not to sit down at the back and relax to be chauffeur driven in these vehicles. You are not to pack them in your houses. You are to actually put them to use with effect from today. And while these vehicles are handed over to you we expect to see them plying the streets and all the roads of Yenagoa. That will be your contribution to our economy”.
The Executive Governor also charged Drivers of the Restorations Cabs to be worthy ambassadors of the state. He emphasized that “a lot of tourists would come in, people who are streaming into Yenagoa to do business. To relax and enjoy their lives, that is what we want to see in Bayelsa. So I enjoin you all to ply your trade with decorum and in a cheerful way and try to be as professional as possible. For most of you, you’re going to be the first point of contact with those who are visiting our dear state. Even before they see me or they see other officers of government, people visit here are going to see you, meet you and interact with you. So you are expected to be our public relations agents of the new Bayelsa. It’s what you show to them that they will think that we are. And you know that we are good people, we are hospitable people, we are honest and hard working, cheerful people. We mind our business. So I like to enjoin you all to exhibit these traits as you carry on with your job”.
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson commended the Commissioner for Transport and the General Manager of Bayelsa Transport Corporation for bringing this scheme to fruition and dedicated the vehicles as well as others that will come as part of the Restoration transport policy, for the use of humanity, service of our good people and to the glory of God Almighty in Jesus name.
Earlier in her address at the occasion, for the launching of the Restoration, the Commissioner for Transport, Mrs. Marie Ebikake said that the launching of Restoration Cabs in Yenagoa today is in fulfillment of what His Excellency, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson promised the good people of the state. According to her, only two months ago, the Governor, seeing the sufferings of the people on using motor-cycle “Okada” as a means of transportation, including motorcycle aided robberies and accidents and other inconveniences in Yenagoa city, announced the banning of the use of Okada and replacing same with a more suitable, efficient, safe and affordable means of transportation in line with national and global best practices. Incidentally, the ban expired on 31st July, 2012, there was an outcry for extension of time, and as a listening Governor the ban was extended by one month, that is, 31st August, 2012.
Mrs. Ebikake disclosed that her Ministry has procured about 150 tri-wheel vehicles and 200 hundred comfortable and roomy vehicles to run transportation in the state, stressing that henceforth, “the avoidable accidents leading to breaking of body parts and sometimes, death will be forgotten.. No more cycle-aided robberies. Commuters can also move freely in terms of heavy rain and sunshine. They will travel far and near conveniently like kings”..
Mrs. Ebikake also said that the vision of His Excellency the Governor is not limited to the provision of the above only. And that the government is negotiating with reputable motor companies for the purchase of buses that will be launched to our roads in order that transport fares will also be brought down to the barest minimum. She emphasized that these efforts are meant for the people to enjoy dividends of good governance, And that the vehicles have been allocated to carefully selected drivers who have been trained on the Ministry’s guidelines and whose identities are guaranteed by credible politicians, civil servants and first class traditional rulers.. This is to ensure that the vehicles are not taken away and converted to personal use.
As residents of Yenagoa get acclimatized to the new transport system, it is expected that the government will take steps to ensure commuters are not exploited by taxi drivers through unregulated hick in transport fares. The government should not only ensure that contractors handing road constructions projects are adequately monitored to complete them in record time, but also ensure that new roads are constructed within the metropolis in accordance with the Capital Development Master Plan to ensure smooth movement of traffic and commuters within the city.
Governor Dickson is working hard and it my hope that the good of Bayelsa State will co-operate with the administration in all endeavours to make his vision of a new Bayelsa a reality as His Excellency as dedicated it to the glory of God.