Lagos traffic laws and Okada riders
By Ebele Orakpo
My God!!” exclaimed John as passers-by watched as an Okada rider knocked down a pedestrian at the Berger Yard Bus stop on the Mile-Two – Apapa Wharf road Monday evening. The Okada rider was definitely in the wrong because not only was he going on a one-way traffic (going from Apapa to Mile-Two on the lane meant for vehicles going from Mile-Two to Apapa), he was on high speed, as if the devil himself was after him.
As he hit the pedestrian, both of them came crashing to the ground right in the middle of the express road. The victim quickly got up and moved away from the road. The motorcyclist also got up, picked up his motorcycle and was about to move when the victim descended on him, landing him a blow on his back and was about to give him another blow when other Okada riders came to his rescue. Said Abu, one of the motorcyclists, to the victim: “Oga, leave him alone. It was your fault. You did not watch the road very well before attempting to cross. You should thank God that there was no oncoming vehicle. You would have been killed.”
Replied John: “What are you trying to say? That your colleague who was going one-way was right?”
“Yes. Everybody is taking one way, so before you cross the road, you should look very well,” said Abu. By this time, the usual Lagos crowd, popularly called Lagos onlookers, had gathered at the scene of the accident. “But I thought there is a law in place against driving one way in Lagos State?” asked Mufu.
“Yes. Governor Fashola signed the new traffic bill in Lagos into law since August 2 and it has taken effect. The law says that anyone caught engaging in one-way driving risks three-year jail term after psychiatric examination,” said Nkechi.
“So what is stopping the law from taking effect in this area? Abi Okada riders dey above the law?” asked Oni.
“The annoying thing is the impunity with which they do it. They are committing an offence and brazenly at that!” noted Titi.
“Do you blame them? LASTMA, FRSC officials and the police see them and look the other way as if the Mile-Two-Apapa axis is not part of Lagos State. That is why they maim and kill people almost on a daily basis here,” said Oni.
Said Eno: “The worst is that many of them are under-aged. I am sure most of them don’t even know how to ride motorcycles, not to talk of understanding and obeying traffic laws.” Turning to the motorcyclist, she said: “Just look at this boy, is he up to 15 years? I doubt it very much.”
Retorted Ibrahim, another motorcyclist: “You, I no be small boy. I get am for wife like you for my house.”
“You mean you are married? Liar! You no fit,” replied Nike.
“Walaihi, me I don marry. Come to my house, you go see am for my wife,” insisted Ibrahim, a lanky young chap, not looking older than 19 years. “The government should act urgently to save lives on this road. So many people have been incapacitated by these emergency motorcyclists,” said Titi.
“Why do you call them emergency motorcyclists,” asked Mufu.
Replied Titi: “Because they come to Lagos as night guards, before you know it, they open a small kiosk where they sell sweets and biscuits. Before you say Jack Robinson, they become motorcyclists over night because it fetches more money”.