Transportation is an indispensable aspect of human existence. It is the movement of humans, animals, and goods from one location to another. Over the years as human environment posed some challenges on the means of getting to one’s destination, there have been several modifications by man to conquer this impediment. The industrial revolution in the 19th century saw a number of inventions fundamentally change transport. The invention of steam engine, closely followed by its application in rail transport, however, with the development of the combustion engine and the automobile round 1900, road transport became more competitive again.(Wikipedia) The quick rate of urbanization with insufficient methods for transportation was one of the main causes for increased utilization of motorcycles (Olubomehin, 2012). Motorcycles are widely used as one of the best means of transportation for being affordable to the common man and can easily reach the inaccessible city parts through narrow and poorly paved roads (Sufyan and Ahmed, 2012).
The World Health Organization reported that between 2010 and 2013 there was a 27% increase in the number of motorcycles globally (WHO, 2015). With this, the use of motorcycle as transport is now a global phenomenon. similarly, Francis and Andrew (1995) observed that the proliferation of vehicles in the cities did not solve transportation problem but resulted in what they described as a state of relative immobility and congestions which result in the introduction of unconventional modes of public transportation.
In Nigeria, the use of motorcycles for public transportation began in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State in early 1970s and by 1980s and it had gradually spread to other parts of Nigeria (Oladipo et al, 2012). However, Madunago, (2004) argued that Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) brought about mass retrenchment and many of the retrenched workers, became commercial motorcycle riders. As the economic situation keeps worsening, the number of commercial motorcycle riders keeps increasing in the country. Similarly, Ogbuiji, (2001) argued that the rise of commercial motorcycling was due to the high cost of doing other businesses necessitated by astronomic rents, epileptic power supply, heavy taxation and low patronage. Thus, as a means of combating unemployment and poverty, many humbled themselves to go into commercial motorcycling.
The high level of unemployment also made a lot of people to join the business of commercial motorcycling (Adekunle et al, 2013). This form of transportation was accepted by many people because of its ability to take passengers to their door steps, maneuver their way through traffic congestion and reach areas where other forms of commercial transportation cannot reach because of bad roads (Oladipo et al, 2012; Ngim et al, 2007; Okojie et al, 2003; Yunusa et al, 2014).
It is noteworthy, however, that transport provides a key to the understanding and operation of many other systems at many different scales and is an epitome of the complex relationships between social and political activities and the level of economic development (Buchannan, 1969; Hoyle and Smith, 1992). A critical aspect of this is that city growth and expansion in Nigeria has been largely uncontrolled (Olarewaju, 2004).
To complement the above, Okada men, commercial motorbike riders, have changed the landscape of the country, geographically and socially: they have highly enhanced the mobility of people who can afford to hire a bike; almost all narrow tracks and bush paths—and therefore most remote areas—are traversable on them. By speeding up a great portion of economic activities, transporting people and goods, and increasing the number of consumers, bike riders contribute to the economy and society at large, and therefore they indirectly benefit people who do not ride bikes themselves (Juana 2008:32).
However, Okada men were depicted as being rude, law breaking and criminal. Their activities and their income from riding were considered unfavorable to the development of the country, as they were not sustainable. Not going to school, not working properly, not attending mosque or church, spending money on useless things, causing accidents, consuming drugs and alcohol, and impregnating girls, they did not live a good life as responsible citizen of the country. Thus, bike riding is an inherently paradoxical activity, potentially enabling riders to escape economically from the status of being dependent youth, while carrying the potential of remaining stuck in this luminal status because of its socially and morally questionable quality. (Menzel 2011)
Similarly, motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable road users (WHO, 2017). And high rate of accidents has been attributed to lack of training and traffic education among motorcycle operations, impatience on the part of the bike riders, flagrant disregard for traffic rules and regulations, among others factors. The head and neck injuries are the principal cause of death and injury among motorcyclists (Solagberu et al.,2006). Also, similar studies in other countries revealed that majority of the injured motorcyclists were aged less than 35 years. This result was consistent with previous studies that teenage and young age drivers posed the highest risks of death and non-fatal injury to themselves, their passengers, occupants of other passenger vehicles, and non-occupants compared with older drivers (Braver and Trempel, 2004; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009 and Mansuri et al.,2015).
Furthermore, one major way to decrease morbidity and mortality from motorcycle riding is the use of helmet. Wearing helmet results in 70% reduction in the risk of head injury and 40% decrease in risk of mortality (Liu, B.C., 2009). Also, a motorcycle rider without a helmet is 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and 15% more likely to suffer a non-fatal injury than a rider that uses helmet when involved in a crash. (NHTSA, 2008)
Of recent, there is an innovative transformation in the modus operandi of commercial motorcycle taxis under the aegis of a technology driven corporation called ORide. According to Iniabasi Akpan, country manager at Opay, ‘about 25-30% of the Nigerian adult population is uneducated, poor, and has little or no access to financial services. As a business, we exist to remove the barriers to financial services and access to a better quality of life for the underprivileged and the financially excluded.’ However, owing to the axiom ‘that the only thing constant is change’ it is against this backdrop that this study is conducted in order to bridge the gap in knowledge by seeing how effective this innovative modus operandi will help to foster the mission and vision of Opay in the aura of commercial motorcycle taxis.