AMB. ANTHONIA EKPA PhD , OON, DELIVERS A PASSIONATE KEYNOTE SPEECH, APPRECIATES GOVERNMENT AND CALLS FOR EFFECTIVE REGULATION OF MOTORCYCLE AND TRICYCLE OPERATIONS TO BOOST NIGERIA’S ECONOMY
Thursday 20th October 2022, will go down in the history of the Transportation Sector in Nigeria , as the day that the Major Stakeholders or Giants /Great names in the Sector , Past and Present , gathered to brainstorm on the Role of Tricycle and Motorcycle Riders in Nigeria’s economy .
It was the Annual Strategic Stakeholders’ Summit of the Amalgamated Association of Tricycle and Motorcycle Riders and Repairers Association of Nigeria – ACOMORAN, which held at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre Abuja.
The well -attended event brought together The Former Minister of Transportation and Former Governor of Rivers State His Excellency Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi , CON as Chairman of the occasion , State Governors including that of Kebbi State , His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, those of Ogun, Osun , Ondo , Lagos etc represented by Hon. Commissioners , Chairmen of the Land Transport Committes in the Senate and House of Representatives , Traditional Rulers , Representatives of Development Partners , Foreign and Diplomatic Corps Representatives, Leaders of the Transport Industry , Media among several dignitaries.
The highlight of the event which occurred as soon as the occasion began, was the delivery of the Keynote Speech by Amb. Anthonia Akpabio Ekpa, PhD , titled : “Sustaining Economic Development through Motorcycle and Tricycle Operations in Nigeria “.
Ekpa who was appointed Ambassador by President Buhari in 2020 and was recently honoured by Mr. President with the National Honours award of the Officer of the Order of the Niger( OON), is a Former Permanent
Permanent Secretary of three Critical Ministries :namely Foreign Affairs, Women Affairs and Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Ekpa is Known for her unparalleled belief in ethical standards , values , Rules and Regulations as well as commitment to the improvement of the Public service
A visionary Personality with honesty and dedication in management of Human, material and financial resources as Permanent Secretary and undoubtedly a staunch believer in “Project Nigeria” , Ekpa is one of highly educated Civil Servants who reached the peak of her education with BA, MA, MSc and PhD .
For years as a Civil Servant , Dr. Ekpa served with unequalled dedication, commitment and integrity in several Federal Government organizations and sectors including Federal character , water , power, transportation and Public service Reforms and Special Duties/ Intergovernmental Affairs among others.
A University of Ibadan and Birmingham University, UK and University of Calabar trained Governance , Development and Communications Expert as well as Public Speaker on National issues, Ekpa from Calabar-Cross River State is Known for her forthrightness , discipline , Transformational Leadership qualities , capacity and eloquence in discussing issues , especially those bothering on Development .
In the Federal Ministry of Transportation, she worked very hard to reposition the Road transport sector to an enviable state which brought national and international attention to the Federal Government and the Ministry.
Given her vision of a prosperous and uplifted Nigeria, Amb. Ekpa always spares no opportunity to articulate her intelligent views with passion , on National issues especially those bothering on transportation, a sector she served as Director Land Transport , covering Road and Mass Transit Administration , for several years , under the Rotimi Amaechi leadership of the Federal Ministry of Transportation .
Her keynote speech rendered with zest , was a well articulated discourse , backed up by data , Reports , references and best practice-country examples across the globe . It established a justification for the argument that the Economic development of Nigeria is integrally connected to the growth and prosperity of Small and Medium Enterprises.She drew instances from the past experiences of Nigeria which in comparison with today , showed that Start-up firms and small business operators among others have often generated much businesses to keep the National economy afloat .
She argued that the transport sector’s role has been to facilitate transit /transport of people and goods across the country .
She showed that at the Federal and Sub-National levels especially in Rural communities and Peri-urban communities of our cities , the Motorcycle Riders and Tricycle Drivers have been the major modes of transport and have served as trade and transit facilitators , conveying people and sometimes goods to their destinations .
Ekpa stated this while delivering a key note address titled “Sustaining economic development through motorcycle and tricycle operations in Nigeria” , at the 2022 strategic stakeholder’s, summit of the amalgamated commercial tricycle and motorcycle owners, repairers and riders association of nigeria (ACOMORAN), which held in Abuja on Thursday.
Emphasizing on the importance of transportation to the economy of Nations , She stated that the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals will be possible if transportation is prioritized .
She illustrated the link between SDGs and transport and maintained that motorcycle and tricycles as means of transport are essential especially as there is no organized government road Mass transportation for citizens , who rely solely on public transport provided by Businness persons in the Private sector .
She illustrated instances when the motorcycles and tricycles have saved lives as their Riders and Drivers respectively are readily available in communities deprived of good roads and cars to convey the poor to Hospitals or health centers .
Farmers in rural communities , traders going to markets etc often rely on Okada and Keke.
She gave several examples where had it not been for Keke and Okada , when there was congestion along road corridors , many people would be late to travels or important appointments.
She used studies from Reports of The World Bank to show that not adequate attention is paid to the benefit of the motorcycles and tricycles in economies of states.
She noted the unfortunate use of motorcycles and tricycles by criminals especially bandists to cause mayhem in the nation.
She however showed that the situation is not peculiar to Nigeria . Across Africa and the ECOWAS region , crimes are committed with motor cycles and tricycles, in Nigeria , only rumors and myths about the invincibility of criminals using motorcycles are rife . She regretted that fear and suspicion has been the weapons used to brand all motorcycle and tricycle riders as evil in many states . She said some states have unfortunately banned motorcycles, burnt them , confiscated and destroyed others with no evidence of culpability of the users in crime . She noted that such actions have multiplied the poverty in our country and impoverished many Educated Youths who rely on such means of transportation of their livelihood.
She stated that the difference between many African countries and Nigeria, is that while they have found solutions based on research and studies and have deployed technology , tags and documentation to trace criminals and have effectively regulated the operations of Motorcycles and tricycles, Nigeria has been on the destructive path without adequate compensation of the affected .
She noted that there appears to be an unfortunate faulty generalization in Nigeria , that all Keke and Okada riders are criminals .
She traced the emergence of Keke and Okada to the effort of Governments for several years to empower citizens especially our Youths , Rural Dwellers and Urban poor.
As commendable as those empowerment efforts have been generously done by the Poliyical class , they are not backed up by adequate preparation of the users of those transport vehicles through training . She said carefully planned Training has not been carried out and there is need for effective monitoring and enforcement of existing codes in our traffic regulations.
She noted with several examples from countries including Rwanda , South Africa , Uganda , Benin Republic , the Philippines etc , where the operations of motorcycles and tricycles riders and drivers are fully regulated , digitized , controlled and monitored . She gave examples of compulsory use of helmets , registration of motorbikes and tricycles , digital tracking, supply of durable identification tags , proper kiting and dressing before one rides motorcycles and keke.
She stated that it is true that some Motorcycle and Tricycle Riders default in use of roads . She noted bad manners , rudeness, drug abuse , lack of compliance with road safety rules etc.
She stressed that “it is important for motorcyclists to take double caution when travelling on the road.”
She argued :
“The summit I believe in my reckoning, is not a session for blame- sharing.
Rather, we need as a people to consider the issues dispassionately and find solutions to them as other countries have done with much success. ”
Like in those countries, these vehicles in Nigeria offer the ‘last mile service’.
“They convey people from where other transport modes stop and take them to the exact destination required. Because of the inconvenience, they undergo accessing bad roads with commuters; their bill is sometimes higher than the average taxi. They also provide for millions of low-income households .
She said people use Okada rides generally because they go farther than conventional buses or car taxis?
They owe their popularity to their ability to get you to remote locations as well as help people beat traffic. In busy cities like Abuja and Lagos where people are always on the move, commercial motorcycles make movements easy” she said.
Earlier, the Former Permanent Secretary stated that a consensus, generated mostly from Government Circles at all levels, associates this mode of transport with road accidents, criminality, insecurity, and indiscipline of the operators on our roads.
According to her, there is no doubt that some of these reports are true, stressing ‘We are witnesses of how insurgency has festered because these modes of transport are easy to procure and apply on roads”. Rations .
She said it’s time to reform the tricycles and motorcycles.
She made several recommendations including that :
(a) The Federal Ministry of transportation, on behalf of Government , should put together a Team to evaluate the situation regarding operations of the Tricycles and motorcycles. She urged the Federal Government to consider an adequate regulatory framework for the sub-sector of tricycles and motorcycles.
She said other countries have properly articulated policies that are popularized and the users are made to understand and follow them.
(b) Like in other countries including Ruwanda , Uganda , Philipines etc, there is need to have an Agency under the Federal Ministry of Transportation dedicated to looking into the entire policy on tricycles including the economic value of these types of transport , their modernization, digitization , kitting , tagging , Licencing and operations including their compliance with modernization, Decarbonization in line with sustainable transportation practices.
(C) There is need to involve FRSC and approved Institutions in drivers training ,testing of drivers for drugs and drunkenness etc.
(d) Provide licensing facilitation for documentation and tracking.
(e) Provide insurance for motorcycles as the countries shown and discussed in her paper have done .
(e)Provide insurance for motorcycles as the countries shown have done.
(f) Train more Educated Youths and Women to handle the vehicles .
( g) Collaboration of Federal and State Governments in ensuring that the Operations of Tricycles and motorcycles are effectively regulated.
In addition to delivery the speech , Amb. Ekpa also moderated the Panel of discussion at the event . Experts were brought on board to offer their input on the issue including the Dr. Lawrence Boms, Former Nigerian Country Representative for United Nations Institute for Training and Research ( UNITAR) , Amb . Eunice Odeghe, President of Female Drivers Association( FEDAN) Engr. Chibuzor Nwosu Representing Prince Obeyende , the MD of Licensing Organization Temple Resources , Mr. John Oche of Transportation Growth Initiative and Mr. Jide Awotunmise of the Professional Driving and Safety Academy .
In his Chairman’s opening Remarks at the Summit , the Former Minister of Transportation , Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi , expressed delight that a burning issue affecting many lives in Nigeria is being focused upon at this time .
He said he has never understood the rationale behind destroying motorcycles belonging to struggling Nigerians .
He noted that the practice was based on reports of the use of motorcycles for criminal activities which though serious , does not warrant the generalization that bring about banning them in states .
He declared total agreement with the entire content of the Keynote speech delivered by Amb. Anthonia Ekpa , PhD .
He reiterated each of the observations as well as valuable examples of how other countries have tackled the issues and brought sanity to the use of Keke and Okada through Regulations , deployment of ICT , documentation, Registration , identification , track Inginfa and Effective enforcement of laws by the relevant Government Agencies in those countries .
Hon. Amaechi said henceforth, the Federal Government has to make regulations to control the operations of the Motorcycles and tricycles. He urged ACOMORAN to regulate itself while waiting for the Federal Government to put its processes together.
The Hon.Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adewale Adegoroye also spoke on the issue promising that his Ministry will work towards the regulation of the operations of Tricycles and motorcycles. He assured that there was no plan of the Federal Government to place a ban on motorcycles and that Government was aware of their huge contribution in job creation and sustainability of households in the country .
Also speaking the National President of ACOMORAN, Prince Adebayo Apelogun, noted that as an organization consisting of over 12 million members, ACOMORAN operations in Nigeria including riding motorcycles and tricycles has become a major source of livelihood for many .
Apelogun disclosed that the leadership of his association has initiated plans to curb accidents and criminality among operators, noting that such vices are reasons adduced by government which lead to confiscation of destruction of vehicles of members in some states .
Other Speakers who made critical input to the discussions included the Force PRO of the Police ,
Chairmen of the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on Land Transportation , Commissioners of Transportation Representing Governors among others .