By Bose Adelaja
Barely a year after the Lagos State Government prohibited the operations of commercial motorcycles on 475 roads and bridges in the state, it has also outlawed the operations of commercial tricycles popularly called Keke Marwa on major roads across the state.
For the past three weeks, commuters in Victoria Island, government reserved areas, Ikeja business district area, Ikoyi, Awolowo Road, Awolowo Way, Alausa and all major roads in Surulere where the restriction order is taking its toll are already counting their losses.
According to the Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, the move was meant ‘’to protect the lives and property of the residents of the state’’ many of whom now experience difficulties moving from one place to another.
Opeifa also said the state government had held several meetings with the unions on the development, and “they have agreed to stay away from these roads”. He also stated that the state has enough Bus Rapid Transport, BRT, and LAGBUS buses as well as taxis on these roads and the tricycle won’t be needed anymore.
Vanguard Metro’s visits to some of the affected areas revealed that the order has reduced the commercial vehicular fleet in the affected areas. VM also found that the provision of BRT and LAGBUS buses, and taxis by the state government is insufficient and the available ones are ineffective due to bad planning and management of the transportation system.
A tour of Lagos Island revealed long queues of passengers waiting for buses which were nowhere to be found. The few that eventually came after a long wait were visibly in bad shape, spewing thick dark fume into the air. It was also found out that many of them have broken down on the way.
Some commuters who could afford the journey by taxi cabs gladly did so, not minding the exorbitant fares. Thus, the cab operators have been making while the situation persists. However, unlike the Keke Marwa, the BRT buses and taxis cannot get into the remote areas. Some commuters who spoke with VM said this has created a lot of hardship for the average Lagosian operating businesses in those areas.
A printer, Mr Tunji Odedina, complained bitterly about the pain the restriction order has inflicted on him, saying after Okada was banned, he resorted to using Keke Marwa for his business runs on the Island. But the recent restriction on this mode of transportation has seriously undermined his business prospects.
A tricycle operator, Mr Sunday Ilesanmi, said he used to be a commercial motorcyclist on the Lagos Island but opted to join the Keke Marwa operators when Okada was banned. ‘’But now that they have placed a restriction order on Keke Marwa, I have no other means of livelihood. The unfortunate thing is that I just went into the hire purchase deal to procure the tricycle which is now a big problem for me as I can no longer meet up with payment,’’ he complained bitterly.
Chukwuma Ibe, a Lagos-based commercial tricyclist has since moved to Mowe-Ibafo, a community in Ogun State for his tricycle business though his family lives in Lagos. He said that at the end of each business day, he takes shelter in his tricycle as he could not afford to pay rent in two places. ‘’I live separately from my family as I cannot cope with the restriction; I have so many bills to offset and I might relocate to my village in Awka if the situation continues,’’ he said.
In a telephone conversation with VM, State Secretary to commercial tricycle operators Alhaji Hakeem Abdulahi lamented the after-effect of the restriction order on his members who, he said, were not informed before the government took its decision.
According to him: ‘’About 20 units are presently counting their losses and most of those affected are married men and women’’. He, however, called on government to review the restriction order, saying: ‘’We cannot fight government, we can only plead with them to temper justice with mercy. We were not given prior notice by the government but we are planning to meet the Commissioner for Transport on the matter and we want him to review the law”.