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To the “Okada Riders”

Standing at the junction today for over 40 minutes, looking for a “bike” to take me home, I realized that these transporters are one of the most unfairly treated. All the bikes I tried stopped and whistled at refused to heed my call, and in annoyance I said some unkind words to a few.

Sometimes, we say these unkind words because we feel they call exorbitant prices, forgettinf that these people also have families to feed, fees and bills to pay. Let me even ask, ‘how easy is it to maneuver a machine across stony roads, dusty roads’? And then you say their prices are high? A few days ago, I had to leave home at 5am because I had to deliver some goods to Ibadan. I stood at the bus stop and to my surprise, there were little or no bike men on the road. I wondered where they were when I needed them, and I realized that I was one of those who took bike men for granted.

I had forgotten the effort it took me to rise from the bed in that cruelly cold weather, yet, I expected to see bike men on the road just because I felt that’s where they are meant to be. We expect them to carry us at very low prices, we expect us to carry us into the bush even if it is not conducive for them, when we keep late nights, we expect them to still be on the road to take us wherever we are headed.

Think about that day you had a bus to catch and you were running late, it was that bike man that got you to the park right in time, think about that time during NYSC day when you went visiting your “ppa” for the first time, it was that bike man you asked when you were stranded and he told you he could take you to your destination. Think about that time when your boss didn’t let you leave work early, you got to your stop at almost eleven in the night, it was that bike-man that saved you just in the nick of time when those street hooligans were almost surrounding you and took you home, how about those times you couldn’t be bothered to sit in an overstuffed bus, it was that bike-man and his bike that took welcomed you for a fee.

They are there, in the cold, in the sun, in the rain, in the dark, in the early hours of the day, just like those serving their father’s land, waiting for you, beckoning to you. Think about the union fee they pay at all those stops and how sometimes, they find it difficult to meet up and then learn to appreciate them more. At times, they are more than you think they are. When you think of yourselves, think of them! Think of the bike men, think of the Okada riders!

Featured Image by Lanre Ayilegbe

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