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Okada, Limbe City Council’s challenge

29 August 2017 No Comment

By Benjamine Et-Nchenge

It is no longer news that Limbe is fast assuming the status of a mega city. Indeed, the United Nations has stipulated that a city with a very high population automatically assumes that status. And we all know Limbe’s population is increasing by leaps and bounds today.
In the world, there are many mega cities with Africa having three of such. These include Lagos (Nigeria), Cairo (Egypt) and Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Kongo). These come with challenges. And the challenges include providing enough infrastructures to support the high population-enough accommodation, transportation, good roads. All these are peculiar to mega cities and Limbe is not an exception. In spite of these, the City has been lucky to have been administered by visionary leadership especially since the democratic journey began in 1990. From late Henry Njalla Quan who laid the foundation for what the City is today, to Lifanda Samuel Ebiama, who deliberately refused to built on that foundation and the present Government Delegate, Andrew Motanga Monjimba, who could be considered a worthy successor, sustaining the scrap legacies of development he met on ground. Presently, the major albatross for the City is the commercial motorcycle menace also known as Okada. The Lifanda administration, in tackling that problem had restricted them to certain roads in the City. It was a palliative step and did not completely solve the problem. But one thing became clear after the partial restriction from some roads out of the very many roads, there was a major reduction in Okada accidents. In those days, the Regional Hospital in Limbe, was said to have dedicated a ward to Okada accident victim. A myth which was quite popular then in view of the ubiquitous nature of the commercial motorcyclists with the attendant accidents which were hourly at the time!
I am convinced that the overworked caregivers in the Regional Hospital would also have heaved a sigh of relief with the reduction in accident rate. But with recent realities and the resurgence of Okada on the roads and the security risks they have constituted, a total ban on Okada as a means of commercial transportation is inevitable. Not only that, there should be a conscious effort to beautify the landscape of Limbe especially now that Limbe’s 160th Anniversary Celebration is billed for next year. Outright ban of commercial motorcyclists should be given a major consideration.
The world will not end if such action is taken. There have been major cities in the country that have banned Okada as a commercial means of transportation and those cities are better for the decision – accidents have reduced, robbery has been curtailed, among other things. Even in India which has a higher population than Cameroon and where some of these okada are imported, it only serves as a means of private/personal transportation and the riders follow traffic rules since their personal safety is at stake.
Though, Limbe City council has not come out categorically to state it will place total ban on okadas, the earlier the city Council summons the courage to do this, the better for all of us, especially in the wake of the all-too-known- crisis, caused primarily by commercial motorcyclists. In actual fact, part of the solution and as agreed by the major stakeholders is to ultimately relocate the market and restrict the commercial motorcyclists on the roads they had always held the people to ransom. Governance is about making life more comfortable for the citizens and the present administration in Limbe City Council is not an exception, it should consider the impact of a total ban on Okada and the attendant fallout and take appropriate steps.
What would become of the riders? Would there be adequate means of transportation for the people? As some people would want to ask: It is really quite simple! The commercial motorcyclists would find another means of livelihood, but if the state is still concerned about their survival, the interested among them could be registered in vocational centers to learn new skills. The Cameroonian society is facing a dearth of carpenters, mechanics, electrician, and the like because everybody wants quick and easy money that Okada brings. This trend would be reversed if some of these riders are placed in vocational centers. Some of them can also be in farm settlements while being provided with all the facilities that would make life comfortable in such settlements. This would also solve many problems. Apart from providing food security, jobs would also be created and this would ultimately move some of these people out of what would have constituted unemployment with its attendant social disruption.
On whether Limbe inhabitants would be able to cope without commercial motorcyclists, the converse side is; before the influx of Okada, have the inhabitants not been moving around? The same argument was proffered when the City was going to ban the accident-prone scrap taxis, today, nobody is missing those mobile coffins. What clearly needs to be done is extend this instruction from the Office of the Senior Divisional Officer for Fako to other such facilities in the city, as soon as possible, while good, motorable roads should be provided. Already, the City seems to have realized that this is the way to go with the rehabilitation of several roads and the concept of reconstructing at downtown Limbe.
This way and this done, Limbe inhabitants will definitely not miss the commercial cyclists. Enough of okada menace.

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