Planned Motorcycle Ban As Threat To Industrial Quest
Opposition by Stakeholders against National Security Council’s plans to ban motorcycles and mining activities in the country has mounted with urge for caution and a rethink to avoid further plunge of unemployment, poverty, and closure of more businesses. ADEMOLA MOSES writes
It has become clear to everyone that the unemployment rate in the country has reached an alarming stage following trajectories in the country’s economy on all fronts. Besides, the country’s current workforce is facing the biggest threat amidst the lingering macroeconomic challenges, thereby, causing massive disruptions in all key facets of the economy, mostly in the manufacturing sector, which is the heartbeat of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Besides, the nation’s informal sector and Micro Small and Medium scale Enterprises (MSMEs) is still struggling to stabilise following the negative effects of COVID-19, the 9-month border closure, the ripple effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, harsh business environment, forex issues and other headwinds.
In addition, there are challenges around abnormally high-interest rates, high excise duties on products, inadequate trade infrastructure, expensive price of natural gas, an unfriendly port environment, multiplicity of taxes/levies/fees, exorbitant cost of haulage, and congestion at the seaports, making businesses grapple for breath.
This is precisely why the proposed nationwide ban on motorcycles and mining activities in the country is generating widespread criticisms amongst various stakeholders in the private sector, especially over its multiplier effects on the country’s economy.
It was learnt that the ban, if implemented, is projected to lead to job losses, closure of tricycle and motorcycle production plants, and also impact the standard of living. In its reaction, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) said it would be absurd and ill-advised economically for government to conclude that because of what is happening in some mining sites, mostly in Zamfara and Osun states, there should be a nationwide ban on motorcycle usage, without recourse to other states where there have been peace and coexistence amongst Nigerians.
For instance, the Director-General of MAN, Segun Ajayi- Kadir, explained that the best option for the government was to explore the Lagos and Kaduna states’ models.
To achieve this, he said that it could restrict the motorcycle riders’ routes across the country, so that they do not endanger the country’s security architecture. He noted that the proposed ban would be inimical and counterproductive for twowheeler manufacturers and other motorcycle assemblers in the country, particularly at this period the country’s capacity utilisation is declining rapidly. He lamented that a nationwide motorcycle ban would further push more people in the motorcycle and tricycle sector into the labour market at a period government has failed in its responsibility of providing jobs for Nigerians.
In his submission, the National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Ide John Udeagbala, admitted that economic activities in Nigeria was currently facing a decline due to the perception of Nigeria being unfriendly to business.
According to him, the chamber is aware that insecurity is contributing to rising production costs and reduced consumption of goods and services.
However, Udeagbala pointed out that it would be more catastrophe for the government to think of a ban on motorcycles at a time unemployment is rising in the country.
The renowned industrialist explained that the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria was of major concern to the organised private sector, in light of the 33.3 per cent rate unemployment figure announced by the NBS.
He added: “We can reasonably assume that there are more than 22 million people unemployed in the country and any move to introduce a nationwide ban on motorcycles will catapult the country’s unemployment rate further.”
For a renowned supply chain expert and Chief Executive Officer of African Centre for Supply Chain (ACSC), Dr. Madu Obiora, Nigeria’s quest towards attaining industrialisation cannot be completed without the role motorcycle and tricycle manufacturers are playing with the advent of Okada and Keke Marwa riders in the country.
Obiora posited the proposed nationwide ban on motorcycles would in no small measure truncate Nigeria’s industrial master plan for aggressively developing the country’s manufacturing sector rapidly. According to him, the government needs to be fully aware that Okada and Keke Marwa have come to stay as one of the critical means of transportation in the country considering the role they play in terms of easing traffic congestion. In its contribution, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) flayed the decision by the National Security Council, saying that taking the means of livelihood away from Okada and tricycles riders would send a bad signal to the country’s image. LCCI pointed out that even India, with the second highest population globally, has made giant stride in motorcycle and tricycle manufacturing by being renowned exporter of the products and empowering millions of its citizens.
The chamber stated that the proposal may further damage the diversification plans of the Federal Government to pursue a non-oil export economy.
Realities on ground
The outcry against the proposed ban is widespread.
Speaking on the pains if the plan eventually sails through, an Okada rider, Umaru Ahmed, begged the government to reconsider its plan as many riders have families to feed, rent to pay and other bills. Ahmed lamented that it was unjust on the part of government to group all Okada riders and tag them as “terrorists” because of insecurity in the country.
Another Okada rider, Oluwanifemi Adams, stated that government should restrict them from the routes that are perceived to be security risk rather than a total ban. He revealed that he was a graduate of Ibadan Polytechnic but that lack of white collars jobs forced him to venture into Okada riding.
The Okada rider appealed to the government not to implement the plan as it may fuel job losses and create hardships. Okechukwu Ugo, a Keke Marwa rider, admitted that tricycle operators were already facing hardships on all fronts nationwide with security agencies, saying that task force and policemen were daily seizing their vehicles.
According to him, the total ban on motorcycles won’t help Nigeria’s economy as it will bring disruption to legitimate motorcycles businesses in the country.
In conclusion, it is apt for government to tackle the insecurity in the country head-on, but a nationwide ban on motorcycles is not the best solution to guaranteeing safety. The negative impact and effect far outweigh whatever good, it may seek to achieve.