Dear Person in Authority,
The waste of plenty is the resource of scarcity. (Thomas Love Peacock)
Recently an executive wing in the subunit of the federation, a central unit, with an evolving status, superintended the crush of 478 seized motorbikes. This is definitely not the first time.
The rationale was, that this is the government’s policy. A traditional practice & a sine qua non, end of discussion. Or is it?
So, in keeping with this spirit, the government mobilised priced human resources in a supervisory capacity and deployed them to the site using scarce resources. Not ending there, fueled up already procured massive machine crushers. After which in an open display of an archaic but traditional approach to confiscated resources management, proceeded to crush these 478 motorbikes. After which, efforts to dispose of the by-products of the exercise will commence.
Let’s state for the records that a second-hand Nigerian used motorbike costs between 300k to 450k. Let’s agree on the lower price of 300k, and deploy this benchmark in a few mathematical permutations. It means the 478 motorcycles would have sold for N144 million in the black market. To states who probably still permit their use.
If this were to be disarticulated, add a top-up of 30%, which will come to N183.3m. To be sold as second-hand used parts in mechanical villages that dot our landscape.
Let us estimate that the cost of men and resources required to crush the above, will amount to 2.5% of the cost of the crushed motorbikes, which will be an additional 4.75m.
Other difficult-to-estimate costs exist obviously, these will include the cost of psychological trauma to the families and dependents of the affected, a price we cannot estimate. The number of persons thrown back into the job market (although they had broken the law in search of daily bread).
Global warming as a result of CO2 production and greenhouse gas effects is on the rise. We are all a witness to the environmental impact in the form of weather changes etc. The combustive process etc., contributes to these negatives, thus driving accruable costs further.
The big questions are, should this policy continue? Will a modification suffice? Are there options? Can we do better?
We can approach the ethical dilemma presented above by using various approaches framed on the numbers. Perhaps we agree it was a lost opportunity that needs a more logical approach to resolution. However, we cannot fail to see the opportunities a properly regulated motorbike transport system will offer.
While a Nigerian is test-running electric motorbikes in Uganda, we are fixed on a sub-optimal approach to public challenges like the scenario being explored.
We should do better.
One, there should be no crushing of any motorbike, that policy is good enough for the waste bin. Next, we should document and register all motorbike riders, insist on a motorbike license, and ensure all motorbike users (passenger inclusive) use proper safety helmets. This will solve most of the concerns.
We should also use some in this network of fluid network of mobile units as security agents, to collect data that can be processed into intelligence reports. Which will further strengthen current efforts.
Beyond crushing these motorbikes, some can be adapted to serve other purposes.
As adapted agricultural trucks and deployed to farms in the hinterlands to strengthen the food transport networks. Others can be adapted as appropriate for use as potential replacements for pickup trucks or vans to facilitate transport networks.
I don’t see this conversion as a challenge, am almost certain that a motivated roadside artisan will deliver the goods, not to talk of the engineering departments of our famed institutions. A place to start is to offer the final year engineering students the problem as project topics/dissertations, away from the traditional unpractical topics that are a typical refrain.
Or, in the alternative, send to our Benue brother who manufactures and redesigns for use by government agencies, or for any other useful purpose. (Video attached below).
The little benefits like income generated from an organized motorbike transport system, restricted to the suburban also present untapped possibilities.
At a time that can be considered fairly transitionary, Governments have a hiatus to review archaic policies that lack the ingredients of Strategic resources management. The new FCT leadership has the wind of public sympathy to test-run these ideas.
More to come.
▪︎ Oracle in Bendeghe-Ekiem (OBE) is a medical practitioner from Etung in Cross River State. He writes from Abuja and sent this via WhatsApp.