- Okada riders
By Samuel Jeremiah Kargbo
Dozens of okada riders across the Freetown Municipality have voiced their frustration at the All People’s Congress (APC) government’s decision to take them off the streets without providing them an alternative source of livelihood.
Speaking to Concord Times, one of the aggrieved bike riders, Mohamed Kamara, said bike riding is a means of self-employment and that youth who are in the business are mostly bread-winners of their families.
“Our families depend on us for their survival. Some of us have children who go to school and have to pay their fees,” he lamented. “These kids will end up becoming drop-outs because it is only through our ‘okada’ business that we can raise the money to pay their fees. The government has disappointed us by banning us from plying the streets without providing us with an alternative source of livelihood.”
Kamara threatened that they would stage a strike action should government insist on not allowing them to continue with their business. He said some of their colleagues had been engaged in very dangerous activities just to survive but decided to ditch such activities to engage in commercial bike riding to take care of their families.
“Government is provoking a situation that will not augur well for the peace of the country. Commercial motorbike riders constitute a huge percentage of the country’s youth population, hence should not be treated in such crude manner,” Kamara noted.
Abu Conteh, another commercial bike rider, expressed similar frustration, noting that they are disappointed that “a government we sacrificed to bring back to power can treat us in such an inhuman manner”.
Some of the irate bike riders threatened to withdraw their support from the ruling party if their plight is not urgently addressed.