Achaba, a disaster waiting to happen?

Achaba or Okada as called in some parts of the country are motorcycle riders commuting people from one place to another mostly within an urban area for a negotiated fare. Tenderly, Achaba or Okada has become one of the Jobs available freely to so many percentages of the Nigerian unemployed youths, including University Graduates, and others who have one or more skills. Usually, Achaba riders are living in the area or city they are commuting people, though some of them flourishes from villages near major cities.

Frankly speaking, Achaba or Okada is not a Job, because it is not classified in the class of employment anywhere in the world, so in this context, all Achaba or Okadas are economically unemployed, in a good instance, any Achaba that is given a Job whether in the Private or Public sector, he will undoubtedly give up the Achaba Job and take up that employment.

Presently, Kano State has the largest number of Achabas in the country, as a result of the state government’s effort to combat unemployment they have distributed thousands of Motorcycles to the unemployed masses, they have even gone far to distribute tricycles to many unemployed people in the state. In such instance, the Emergency Departments of our General Hospitals are full of those favored with the Motorcycles; of course, those that distributed Motorcycles or Tricycles to them will not attend to them at the hospital when cars hit them or when they clash with themselves. Many accidents occur every single day in the city involving Achaba. Likewise, my point will be widely accepted if I said it is not wise or helpful to make Okada a permanent Job for the unemployed people, though it is our people’s high ignorance in governance that patronize personal gifts more than infrastructural development, and community development in general.

So many people now rely heavily on the Okadas to commute them from one place to another, while so many people prefer to escape the outraging carelessness of the Okadas, and other health risks and instead take Taxis and Mass Transits popularly called Hayis for their transportation. Kano has since become a hotspot for many Okadas that were banned from other cities like the FCT, making the city host so many crimes in one context, and making it dirty in the other context. So many cases of Lung cancer were found to be from non-smokers of cigarette but from smokers of the Achaba motorcycle carbon emission, which is the most deadly substance in our atmosphere, posing great threat to our future, without any plan to control this Carbon, Kano will one day witness acid rains or the like, and so far it is predicted to suffer more in the Global Warming scenario.

Indeed, there is the need for every single person to contribute in reducing the amount of Carbon being sent to our atmosphere every day. It is quite disturbing to note that most of this threat will return back to the poor masses of the country, not those that buy the Carbon machine and distribute it free.

The Solution to this disturbing disaster can be worked out extensively by a team of experts both in economic, safety, and health sectors. The economic team should analyze different ways of replacing the Okada Job with a more tangible job, while the safety team will try and enforce laws on using helmets by both drivers and passengers, and the health team to find ways of protecting people from the Carbon produced to our atmosphere everyday, as the case may be, it affects our water, food, the air we breath, our animals and so many other diseases caused by Carbon emissions.

In a more developed country, this type of disasters would have already undergone series of research on how, when, and where the solution should come, indeed it is a great problem. Comparing the atmosphere of Abuja and Kano, one will undoubtedly see that Abuja is more eco-friendly and atmospherically better than Kano. Abuja have already tackle the problem in its own sense, but in general sense, it did not, because most of whom that lost the Okada Job in Abuja either leaves the city and come to cities like Kaduna or Kano and continue making the atmosphere unfriendly, or start illegal Jobs like stealing, robbery, etc. It will take series of years before the problem can be totally tackled, government needs to plan extensively, and this is the right time to plan, if not, no one knows how our city will look like in few years to come.

It should now be profoundly useless and harmful to even sell Motorcycles in Kano city, rather than distribute it free, the present government has ordered thousands upon thousands of motorcycles and distributed them freely to some youths, which is supposedly shameful. For instance, when the country turns to what we do not want it to turn, many people will try to leave the country, most of these Okadas are normally serviette to only what they are used to, that is they are unskilled, they cannot work in so many parts of the world, in fact even in neighboring African countries, they cannot work. Government should introduce a program specially tailored for the Okadas, when ever an Okada get the required skill then he should be given capital to embark on a safe and permanent job. Government should also introduce a more robust and atmospherically clean mass transit to cover as much areas as possible. This and more will further enhance the livelihood of our dear Kano City, and will make it cleaner and safe to stay.

Federal Government should further not allow any state governor, chairman of a local government, or any councilor to give commercial motorcycle or tricycle as a gift, the Federal Government should make it totally illegal and punishable by law. Training youths in different jobs and providing them with permanent employment opportunities in many sectors of the economy is what all arms of government are supposed to be doing not distributing motorcycles or tricycles.

Published on Daily Trust in April, 2007

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