See what okada has done

Idris on his hospital bed

...As expert offers panacea to motorbikes’ menace
He seemed lost in thought and oblivious to the chaos around him. As he reclined on his bed with a heavily bandaged right leg hanging on a sling, it was apparent he was in excruciating pain.

 He was suddenly jolted out of his sad reverie by the reporter’s emphatic greeting. With a sad, expressionless look that spoke volumes about the turmoil that had virtually engulfed his soul, the young man stared at the reporter and apologized.

 “Sorry, are you talking to me? Please forgive me. Sit down,” he said, and pushed a metal chair by his bedside towards the reporter.

 This is Badmus Idris, an electrician in Mowe, Ogun State. He is at the moment a patient at the Male Ward of the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi.
 His personal effects that include a plastic bucket, sponge, travelling bag, plates and spoons, were clear indications that he was not new to the health institution.In fact, he has been there since December 2011, after being involved in a motorcycle (okada) accident.

 Since the incident, he confessed to Daily Sun, torrents of painful memories have continued to assail his mind, turning him into a ghost of his former self.
 Idris’ journey to Igbobi started on Friday, December 16, 2011, when he went to purchase electrical parts for his workshop from a nearby market. Without warning, his motorcycle had a head-on collision with that of a commercial cyclist (okada) on high speed.
 The rest became history, as he lost consciousness and woke up later in a private hospital with a terribly fractured right leg. He later learnt that the okada operator responsible for the accident escaped, after seeing the consequence of his reckless act.

 “I was told the okada man who caused the accident was not injured. He followed one-way and nearly killed me due to his recklessness. I was rushed to the nearest hospital, and admitted for two days before being referred to the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos,” he recalled.
 Idris was operated on by a team of orthopaedic surgeons on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, and has since been slated for more surgeries.
 Despite being in need of financial assistance to meet his medical needs, this father of three is desirous of regaining the use of his leg again.

 “I need to walk again. Nobody should pray to be a patient in this place. It’s not a good experience,” he said. “I have spent over N300, 000, here. My mother has gone through so much while trying to take care of me. She has even resorted to begging in order to keep me alive and to help me regain the use of my leg. Life has been very hard. I have no other source of livelihood because we have sold everything in my electrical store.”

 For Musa Hassan, a youth corps member serving in Kebbi State, it is the insincerity of the government that landed him in the hospital, not the reckless act of an okada man that knocked him down and broke his left leg.
 On Monday, August 15, 2011, while on a visit to Lagos, Hassan, took a walk to a spot close to the popular Apple Junction in Festac, to buy apples. Unfortunately, he did not make it back home. He landed at Igbobi Orthopaedic Hospital after being knocked down by an okada operator plying one-way.
 Since his admission, he has undergone a surgery and has four more to go before going through physiotherapy treatment.

 This youth corps member is indifferent to the presence of okada operators on major roads, even though he is not oblivious of the menace they constitute. He, however, blamed their presence on Nigerian roads to government’s insensitivity to the plight of the masses and the crippling economic condition.

 He also blamed their presence on politicians, whom he noted usually distribute motorcycles to unemployed and illiterate youths during campaigns, only to come up with reasons to ban their operation on the roads.
 These and many more are cases of people who are still smarting from the high presence of particularly, reckless, untrained and unlicensed okada operators on Nigerian roads.

 According to a research conducted on risk factors involved in commercial cyclists operation, it was noted that okada drivers who are mainly illiterate young males are ill-prepared and ill-equipped for the road. The study concluded that the combination is a recipe for traffic crash-related injuries and fatal crashes. It, therefore, advocated for urgent job creation, better licensing procedures, road safety education and national legislation to guide operation.
 This was corroborated by the Chief Medical Officer of the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Dr. Paul Adegboyega Olusola Coker, who noted that an effective public transport system would go a long way to reduce fatalities from okada related accidents.

 The medical practitioner disclosed that the Igbobi Hospital receive between 20 and 25 motorcycle related accident cases daily. He however, noted that critical accident cases brought into the emergency unit of the hospital falls between 10 and 15, adding that not all of them end up being admitted.

 Dr. Coker noted that the rate of motorcycle related accidents keep rising because of the involvement of some northerners in the okada business. He averred that the riders, who are mostly illiterates and have no idea about road signs, just migrate to Lagos and start conveying passengers. He also confirmed that motorcyclists constitute a high proportion of fatalities in traffic crashes, especially among those brought to the health facility.
 He recalled that when he was a young man growing up in Lagos, those who owned motorcycles then usually had rider’s permit.

 Speaking on the consequences of not seeking professional medical assistance in the event of an accident, he noted that taking such decision could be grave and costly, and can sometimes, lead to death.
 He noted that most accident victims don’t seek proper medical attention from government hospitals but would rather, patronise traditional bone setters who end up complicating their cases. He however blamed the development on traditional beliefs and fear of the unknown.

 “Most of them end up requesting for cock and other things they claim would be used to set fractured bones. We are talking about a third world country where the citizens are afraid of spending, and would readily attribute their problems to spiritual attack. They are also sceptical about the cost of being treated in a government hospital. Whereas, when they come, they are only asked to pay the initial deposit, and when they don’t have, they are not denied the initial 24 hours medical attention. In traditional bone setting centres, they end up spending more than they would have in a government hospital, and also, end up complicating their problems. At the end of the day, they come to us, rather too late.
 We had someone like that recently. The patient is a graduate but when he had a close fracture, he sought for medical attention in his village because he felt it was a spiritual attack. He was later amputated above the elbow in a hospital, and referred to us for follow up.”

 Dr. Coker attributed the menace of okada on Nigeria roads to a failed public transport system. He opined that if public and efficient transport system is put in place, Nigerians would embrace it.
 “People can afford to leave their vehicles at bus terminals to board buses to their various destinations, and return to pick them later. This would not only discourage okada patronage but would reduce the amount of vehicles on the road at a time. If ferry transport is re-introduced, it would go a long way.

 Nigerians also need to stop being in a hurry because some of them can charter an okada from a place like Ojota to Victoria Island.”
 He concluded that okada, as a means of transportation, can’t be eradicated because most densely populated areas can only be accessed by them. Regulating their operations, according to the medical practitioner, remains the only remedial measure.
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