Okada, A Dangerous Necessity As Nigeria Faces Gas Scarcity
By Adeola Oladele
Published on Tue, Jun 02 2009 by Adeola Oladele
In this short video, two men on motorcycles are pushing a car while riding on a Nigerian highway. This is a potentially dangerous activity the car owner is practicing to conserve petrol.
When it becomes scarce, a queue for gas in many Nigerian filling stations can be a mile long. It’s a shame for a country that is presently the eight largest oil exporter in the world. Gas scarcity has made life difficult for many car owners. Some are switching to motorcycles, which has led to several accidents, claiming thousands of lives every year.
I was talking with a friend in Nigeria recently, he told me he had to queue for four hours just to fill his tank. Customers fight to buy at a ridiculously high price, and some spend the night at filling stations waiting for their turn. Although, gas is always available on the black market, it’s four times the official price.
After getting gas, car-owners could spend hours on the road because of heavy traffic depending on the city they’re in.
Now, many are parking their cars and settling for the “Okada life.” Okada is a commercial motorcycle. It’s presently the fastest method of getting around in cities in Nigeria, but not the safest. As Gbenga Badejo says in his blog, Okada is “One of The 7 Wonders of Nigeria.”
I couldn’t avoid taking Okada when I went to Nigeria, especially when it’s getting dark and taxis become scarce, but I had to pray for safety each time I was on one.
Motorcyclists maneuver their bikes between cars and trailer trucks in order to avoid heavy traffic and potholes. However, many of them underestimate their proximity to cars and trucks on motion, and sometimes auto drivers could care less about an Okada riders’ safety. This has led to many deadly accidents causing many riders to have multiple injuries, especially severe head injuries.
More than 1,800 people die every year in Lagos alone from Okada accidents according to the Nigerian Tribune.
A new law that’s been enacted in many Nigerian cities mandates that passengers wear helmets. Many are not happy with this, considering that several passengers would wear the same helmet in the day.
Until the government can stabilize gas prices and make it affordable, it looks like Okada in Nigeria is here to stay…as a dangerous necessity.