By Nnamdi Ojiego
For a couple of days now, living in Lagos has become a sort of hell to some people. No thanks to the ban on commercial motorcyclists, otherwise known as Okada from plying some roads in the state.
The enforcement of the ban took a new dimension early this week when the okada operators took to the streets to protest indiscriminate arrest of their members and subsequent seizure of their motorcycles, and the process, destroyed public facilities including BRT buses.
This it was learnt, angered the state government warranting a heavy clampdown on the defaulters by enforcing agents. As a result of this, okada riders across the state suspended their operations. The situation is compounded by the ‘perceived’ scarcity of petroleum products. Perceived because, it is believed that the scarcity was created by greedy marketers who hoard the products only to sell at odd hours.
All these have made life miserable for Lagosians. At every bus stop, commuters are seen stranded while some were left with no option than to take a long trek to their destinations.
Some of the commuters who spoke to our reporter said they lacked appropriate words to described the hardship they are going through and called on the state government to immediately address the situation.
Even car owners were not spared. The ban has witnessed an increase in number of vehicles on the roads, as those who rarely use their cars , for fear of being held up in traffic and miss business engagements, had no option than to use their cars and spend hours in traffic.
Those who commented on this issue were of the view that the government should have put some measures in place before full implementation of the new law, so as to cushion the effects on residents.
Mr Christopher, a journalist with one of the national dailies in Lagos, said the ban has made his work more difficult, particularly in meeting up deadline.
“Yesterday, I spent over an hour at a bus stop in the morning and over two hours in the traffic. The same thing happened in the evening. It was a terrible experience that I wouldn’t want my enemy to have.”
A banker, Kola and Zico, a trader at Ladipo market also shared similar experiences and opined that it is becoming unbearable to live in Lagos.
Most of the people who shared their ordeals with us maintain that the ban on okada was not bad in itself but stressed that everything was wrong about its implementation. They accused the police and other law enforcement agents of extorting money from okada riders even from those plying approved routes.
They suggested that for the law to be effective, government should provide alternative means of transportation, open new routes and repair bad roads. They also called for close monitoring of the activities of enforcement agents, to check their excesses.
Do have your say:
However, if you are in Lagos, feel free to share your experiences with us and what you think should be the solution- the best ways to go about the implementation of the new traffic laws.