By Giwa SHILE
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, on Monday, said that the FCT Administration has concluded plan to release impounded tricycles and introduce riders’ certification in the territory.
Bello made this known at a meeting with the leadership of the National Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association (NACTOMORAS), FCT chapter and 19 Northern States in Abuja.
According to him, we will direct the release of all impounded tricycles as long as the operators are ready to partner with the administration to ensure orderly conduct.
Bello said that NACTOMORAS represents a very important economic bloc in Nigeria today, saying that the association provides needed services for the people.
He noted that substantial population of this country depends on motorized tricycles for movement of goods and services.
“The FCT Administration is working to introduce Riders’ Certification, allocate areas to operators as well as assign routes for the group.
The minister, however, regretted that ‘Keke’ and ‘Okada’ Operators, who are increasingly flooding the city for security and comfort, had failed to abide by the agreements reached.
Bello said the administration will also prevent the incursion of commercial tricycle and motorcycle operators into the territory’s highways and other unapproved areas and restrict them to the suburbs.
He urged the group to abide by the agreement and restrict their activities to only the approved areas, saying “Nobody wants to prevent anybody from doing his work.’’
“All of us, including the FCT minister are in Abuja to look for food. Today, if there is no food in Abuja, all of us will go back to our villages.
“But we have to carry out our activities in a way that is acceptable and within the regulations,” Bello said.
Also speaking, the Director, FCT Directorate of Road Traffic Services (DRTS), Aliyu Bodinga, said that the procurement for the Riders Certification Card was being processed.
Bodinga said arrangements had been concluded with the associations to collect the biometric data of all operators in the FCT.
He, however, said that Abuja Master plan did not make provisions for the operators to operate.
The director explained that the administration decided to integrate them to operate in the suburbs and estates due to their critical position in the transportation value chain.
“Because of the interest of the present administration for those at the grassroots, we came up with a more agreeable arrangement to integrate these people.
“We will regulate them and zone their operations based on our needs.
“We will ask the association members to come and register. If an area is occupied, they will be directed to go to the next estate.
“If somebody comes to transgress and enter their territory, they will know that this person doesn’t belong to them. We will do a survey to know the requirement in the approved area,’’ he added.
Bodinga said the DRTS as enforcers of the traffic laws met with the association where an agreement was reached and a joint statement was issued with the FCT Commissioner of Police.
He urged the members to abide by the rules and regulations governing operation of the association within the territory as well as educate members to restrict themselves within the approved areas of operations.
“We went round the city from Area one to Apo, Gwarimpa and the Airport. We delivered lectures and appealed to their conscience. We don’t want to arrest you any longer.
“Please, simply obey the rules. Don’t go against the traffic. Don’t operate on the highway. If you must operate, go to the suburbs 500 meters away,” he said.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator of a Buhari/Osinbajo re-election campaign group, Garba Bello, said the association intervened between the FCTA and the operators to ensure cordial relations and peaceful atmosphere.
The coordinator said the group met with operators in different states to secure 18 million votes for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
FCT Transport Secretary, Kayode Opeifa also emphasised the need for Okada and Keke operators to ensure law and order.
Opeifa said the FCTA would not allow a situation whereby operators take advantage of government’s magnanimity to drive against traffic as well as ride on highways to endanger the lives of other Nigerians.
He said government is doing everything possible to take care of their interest.