June 7, 2016 By Patrick J.Kamara
Senior private legal practitioner, Lawyer James Blyden Jenkins-Johnston Esq. has called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the law enforcement agency to immediately review or cancel their decision in banning Okada Riders from plying the Central Business District of Freetown.
In a strongly worded letter dated 6th June, 2016 lawyer Jenkins-Johnston Esq. states that he was not a commercial Bike Rider (Okada Rider) nor did he owned one, but was gravely concerned about the inconveniences the ban has created among the population.
He said he was completely against the blanket ban because Okada Riders provide useful and faster service to a large number of citizens which according to him, taxis and Podapoda cannot provide.
He added that commercial Bike riding has provided a large scale employment for many youths who were unemployed and engaged in criminal activities, adding that the blanket ban which had rendered some jobless, was likely possible for many to return back to crimes for survival.
Jenkins-Johnston stated that the government has compounded more social problem in the city and that taxi and Poda poda drivers have taken advantage of the situation to exploit passengers by increasing their fares by demanding two to three-way from passengers.
The lawyer also urged the government to look into the matter on the basis of justice, law and the larger interest of the public who relied on Okada for their daily activities.
He said he would be the first to concede that some Riders are lawless and uncontrollable, but noted that it was not enough reason to take a “drastic and high-handed step” against all of them.
He described the ban as a violent punishment on both the riders and citizens, and considered the government’s move as not only unfair but illegal and unjust, noting that the ban was causing too much trouble to a substantial number of citizens.
He doubted whether the Ministry of Internal Affairs was empowered under the Road Traffic Act and the Road Traffic Regulation to impose a ban on Okada Riders.
He called on the Ministry to act within the frame of the law whenever it wanted to exercise its powers.
He stated that, “If any Okada Rider acts outside the law, let him be punished, but you cannot punish everyone including those who have done nothing wrong. The government is like a father in any family. When your children misbehave, you punish them but must always temper justice with mercy.”