By Godwin Edeh
Okada riders in Makurdi metropolis have appealed to relevant authorities in the state over the alleged incessant arrests and harassment by traffic wardens at the various roundabouts and junctions in Makurdi, the Benue state capital.
Okada riders, who spoke.to The Voice alleged that they were been arrested and harassed only to be released after the payment of what they described as “settlement” even when they did not contravene any traffic rule.
An okada rider, who gave his name as Terkura Azer narrated to The Voice how he was made to part with undisclosed amount of money at Modern Market junction. According to Azer “I slowed down to allow vehicle pass to Modern Market before I could move to Wadata, as I was coming from Naka road but to my surprise, the traffic warden came from the filling station, switched off my bike and pulled out the key and told me, am under arrest.”
Another okada rider who don’t want to be mentioned in print also stated that, he was harassed at Police “B” Division junction where the traffic warden alleged that he contravened traffic rule. He said that, it took the intervention of other riders who were there before his motorcycle was released.
However, investigation by The Voice noted that, traffic wardens in most of the junctions where seen either chatting or idling away time only to appear on the road when there is an accident. A situation the motoring public described as worrisome. Mr Victor Eze, a staff with a federal establishment in Makurdi narrated how the traffic wardens came to the road after his car was bashed from behind at about 7:45am on his way to the office.
Mr Eze appealed to the relevant traffic authorities in the state to constantly monitor the activities of their officers and men on duty, especially in the busy hours of 7:30am to 8:30am known as the rush hours to avoid incidences of accidents, especially involving motorcycles.
In his response, the Secretary, Benue Motorcycle Association (BENMOA) Makurdi branch, Comrade Ayongo Terwase told The Voice that some of the okada riders were arrested due to over loading or lack of plate numbers.
He however, expressed concern over what he described as negligence of duty by the traffic wardens, who usually spent one hour on duty and idle away the remaining hours chatting, despite noticeable traffic build up and congestion.
He also appealed to the Traffic Division to wake up to its responsibilities, especially now in the crucial period of “Ember months” with Christmas fast approaching and definitely there will be increase in vehicular and human traffic.
Areas notorious for these incidences of accidents, harassments, alleged extortions of motorcyclists and negligence of duty in Makurdi metropolis includes, Modern Market junction, David Mark bye pass by Bolek filling station, Wurukum roundabout, Police “B” Division and Benue Links junctions respectively.
When contacted, the OC Metropolitan Traffic Division (MTD), SP Juliet Kpum promised to call back as she was attending to other urgent matters at Nigerian Airforce Base, Makurdi but failed to do so as at press time.