Curbing Criminality in Awka: Keke Ban not the Solution

On Wednesday November11, the Anambra State Government reportedly met with operators of the popular mode of transportation in the state known as keke. The meeting came in the wake of crimes committed by those driving keke vehicles lately from which suspected cultists operate. Their activities have accounted for many deaths already, with many increasingly becoming scared of making use of the commercial tricycles or keke.

It was also reported that as a consequence, the Anambra State Government is now considering banning keke operations in the capital city and providing the operators with shuttle buses.

One would not blame the government for mulling over such an action, given that it is saddled with the responsibility of providing security for citizens. But then, the government should always approach issues holistically. It was not long ago that the state government banned the operations of commercial motorcycles known as okada.

Apart from the reason of the ban curbing the rate of accidents recoded by okada riders, the other reason which was to curb crime, has not worked. Indeed, since the ban on okada was effected, the state started witnessing crimes committed by those using keke and shuttle buses; with the shuttle buses doing what is known here in the local parlance as ”one chance” robberies.

The switch from crimes committed with okada to those committed with keke or shuttle buses shows that promptly announcing such bans may not be the solution. If anything, it is the citizens who largely bear the brunt of such bans as their means of transportation or earning a living often get hampered.

What we expect the state government to do in such a situation is to devise fool proof means of ensuring that such crimes are curbed without announcing any ban which also affects the economy of those affected by it.

The transporters have unions which help to regulate the activities of the members. Thus, if the government plans to carry out any action, we expect that they do so in consultation with the unions. For instance, rather than ban the operations of okada, government should have directed the union to issue vests with numbers to its members, as well as any other measure that would have helped in checking the activities of its members.

Had that been done, the operators would still have been earning a living legitimately and the members of the public who are now suffering as a result of the ban would have been happy. Recall that it is only the motorcycles that can take one to any kind of place or terrain which other vehicles cannot.

The same can be done in the case of the keke operators. The government should work with the keke union to fashion out ways of ensuring that their union is not infiltrated by bad elements. This will guarantee that no one loses his or her job.

Again there is no guarantee that if keke is banned, that its replacement won’t be used to commit crime. In that case, the state government will keep on banning until there is nothing left. Promising the operators of keke that they will be upgraded to shuttle buses may not work either as the government is yet to fulfill its similar promise earlier to okada operators.

Therefore, we suggest that government parleys with the affected unions and come out with measures that will bring a more lasting solution.

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