Commercial motorcyclists on Thursday thronged Abeokuta, in Ogun State to protest alleged undue extortion by the government.
The motorcyclists, also known as Okada riders, defied the COVID-19 social distancing order as they came out in their hundreds to kick against “incessant hike in the cost of tickets”, which they are made to procure daily before being allowed to operate.
NAIJALOADED reports that the angry Okada riders, as early as 9am barricaded the Ake-Aadatan road, causing heavy traffic gridlock in the area.
They had marched to the Abeokuta South Local Government Secretariat, seeking the attention of its officials.
They were also seen carrying placards with different inscriptions, to emphasise their complaints.
Among many of their agitations is the increase in the cost of daily tickets from N350 to N500 by the state government, in collaboration with the local government.
According to them, the Ogun State government also increased the number of bike riders unions in the state to three, stressing that each of the unions charges N2,000 weekly.
One of the protesters, Samuel Odeyemi, who spoke with NAIJALOADED, said,
“We are not fighting the government. What we want is they should stop extorting us by increasing the cost of tickets all the time.
“This government increased the ticket to N350 a few months ago, and now, after COVID-19 lockdown, they increased it to N500. Why the insensitivity?
“Look at this, they said we should be paying N5,500 for not using a face mask or if we carry a passenger that does not use it. Isn’t that too much?
“The money should be reduced. We are also telling our people to always use face masks, but the government should also realise that it is something unusual; we just started using it and we can’t suffocate ourselves.
Another rider, who identified himself as Bayo Adewole, said:
“We also want the government to reduce the number of unions to one.
“We pay N2,000 to each of these unions every week for stickers, that is aside from the one we pay for a government sticker. How much do we make daily? This extortion must stop.
“Now that they have increased the ticket fee to N500, that’s a sum of N15,000 per month. Can we have savings like this? As early as 5am, they are outside chasing okada riders all in the name of tickets? This extortion must stop!”
While addressing the protesters, the Secretary, Abeokuta South Local Government Transition Committee, Alhaji Nurudeen Ayorinde, urged the protesters to remain calm.
Ayorinde told them that all their grievances would be looked into by the appropriate authorities.
He appealed to them to always wear face masks to avoid the spread of Coronavirus.
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