by Stanley Azuakola
Jos is on fire again. How many times have we heard that in recent years?
This time, the source of discontent is the ban on commercial motorcycles (okadas). Government is determined to enforce the ban, which took effect from Tuesday June 12, due to the fact that robbers and terrorists usually operate using okadas.
The last time the Plateau State government tried to ban motorcycles was in 2010. It was unsuccessful that time because the riots which ensued forced the government to backtrack.
The ban this time seems to be following the same trajectory. Many young residents of the Plateau State capital hit the streets, setting up bonfires to protest the ban, while the fear-stricken members of the public fled to their homes for safety.
Violence broke out when anti-riot policemen and members of the special task force charged with maintaining peace tried to enforce the ban at Zololo junction. The youths resisted them, blocked the roads and made bonfires.
The policemen responded by throwing tear-gas canisters at the crowd and fired shots in the air in an attempt to disperse the protesters.
As the youths withdrew, they destroyed many tricycles, apparently upset that the state government had decided to replace motorcycles with tricycles. They also destroyed new taxi cabs given by the state government to cushion the effect of the ban.
Some witnesses claimed seeing dead bodies at Layin Sarki as well as some people allegedly injured in the confusion.
The commissioner for Information, Mr. Abraham Yiljap, said that the situation was being handled “effectively’’.
“We are handling the situation. We shall enforce the ban (on commercial cyclists) in Jos North and all parts of the state. We shall overcome this initial resistance. The ban is for the popular good and we shall see it through for our corporate security,’’ Yiljab said.
Meanwhile, the commissioner of Police for the state, Mr. Emmanuel Ayeni, said, “The situation is firmly under control. We started the enforcement yesterday (Tuesday); we have succeeded in other places and there is no reason we should not succeed everywhere.
“You remember we briefed you people (journalists) the other day and told you we shall enforce the ban. We are doing just that and no one can stop us. No one is above the law.’’
On reports that some of the protesters were shot and injured, Ayeni said he had not received such reports.
“I have not heard any reports of anyone being shot but we are heading to the scene and will brief you of any development,’’ he said.
Most parts of the metropolis complied with the ban on Tuesday, except in some settlements in Jos North area where the commercial cyclists operated fully.
Source: PM News