By Olasunkanmi Akoni
GOVERNOR Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has disclosed plans by his administration to ban all activities of commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada riders from plying major bridges and roads in the metropolis.
Fashola stated this when he hosted media executives at the State House, weekend, on the activities of his administration so far.
His words: â€œThere was a suggestion first that we were in a position to deal with the Okada riders and then we succumbed to political considerations. Someone else ventilated that issue and asked what is the specification of motorcycles that are supposed to ply Ikorodu Road and other major highways.
â€œClearly, there are 60 or 70 CC capacities (I am not sure now) but the popular ones that we see have no place on Eko Bridge or Ikorodu Road or 3rd Mainland Bridge as a matter of law and we are working on policies to enforce that law.
â€œBut let me say that the problem of Okada is not a government problem. It is a peopleâ€™s problem. We have to understand, this is why I said that maybe we assume that our people know enough. Okada is not a joy ride. It is a business. If truly we do not want Okada, how many of us are ready to walk that extra two kilometres and say â€˜I will not ride an Okada?â€™
â€œOur job will have been done by more than half if people make that choice.Â I do not want Okada and I will not climb it. With all of our best efforts, with about 33,000 police officers, where is the capacity to chase Okada from every nook and cranny of Lagos? There is none.
â€œSo this is a peopleâ€™s problem. If we take the economic benefit out of it, Okada will disappear in the same way that it appeared. It is that simple. So the choice really is the peopleâ€™s choice. Do we want it or not? because if government starts, the next thing will be â€˜Fashola does not have human face; he wants to create unemploymentâ€™,â€ he said.
â€œYou will write it. It is us as a people who must make that choice. If there is no passenger for Okada, they will look for another business. It must be worth it and that is why more of it is coming in. I think I want us to look at it that way; as a country, as a state, as a people, is it the mode of transportation that we want? That decision will come, of course, with its inconvenience, but it must be the price that we must elect to pay for the way we want to live.
Of course, having chosen to use Okada, we have paid the prizeâ€” broken limbs, severed limbs, deaths, orphans, widows, widowers. We have to decide whether we want to continue to play that part. I have made that point in the public before, walking does not kill a man but Okada can kill you. So, I just want to leave it at that and say that it is a peopleâ€™s choice and not a government choice.â€