By Monsur Olowoopejo
Barely a year after the Lagos State Government introduced the Road Traffic Law, the Motorcycle and Tricycle Operators Association of Nigeria MOTOAN, has lamented that over 75 percent of its members are out of business.
It will be recalled that Governor, Babatunde Fashola, while signing the state’s road traffic bill into law, said that the new law would help the state address disorderliness on the road which had led to high rate of accidents especially through commercial motorcycle popularly called Okada.
The law Okada and Tricycle popularly called “Keke Marwa” from plying major high ways in the state, which has led to the reduction in road traffic accidents in the state. According to statistics released by the state government, 3718 Okada related accidents were recorded between January 2012 and July 2012, that is, before the law was promulgated. While 2413 Okada related accidents were recorded between August 2012 and March 2013, with the peak in August when the law was yet to be fully enforced.
National President of MOTOAN, Mr. Ibrahim Ekunola said: “I cannot say the actual number of Okada riders who are out of business now and roaming the streets. The number is reducing daily. But at least 75 percent of our members are out of job, due to the new road traffic law which banned our activities from 475 roads in the state.”
He added that spare parts dealers have also been forced out of the business. And those who still have their Okada with them were having problem replacing worn out parts.
The national president lamented that the reduction was further intensified by the activities of officers of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, who extend their enforcement beyond the restricted roads, explaining “they also arrest our members on unrestricted roads and this frustrated many who couldn’t withstand the pressure mounted by the enforcement officers.”
Ekunola lamented “we weren’t allowed to see the law before it was finally forwarded to the Lagos State House of Assembly, LAHA. From what we, I mean the stakeholders saw earlier, the 475 roads were not included. It was later they added them to the law.”
REVIEW OF LAW
On the need for review of the law, the Ehunola said: “Looking at the law, it has helped reduced the rate of traffic congestion. The number of robbery cases has also nosedived. The number of accidents recorded has plunged due to the ban on Okada operation from plying certain roads in the state.”
However, Ekunola said the law “needs urgent review especially on the restricted roads. Some inner roads were included in the 475 restricted roads by some overzealous officials who were sent out to identify the roads in each local government and Local Council Development Areas, LCDA.”
According to him, “For instance, Kayode, Olateju and Ogunmokun roads in Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye Local Council Development Area, LCDA aren’t major highways. Also, Post Office road in Yaba Local Government isn’t a major road,” he explained.
“For instance, the government has limited the activities keke operation from the entire Victoria Island, Government Residential Area, GRA Ikeja, the entire Ikoyi, Awolowo road and Awolowo way, Alausa and the entire major roads in Surulere Local Government.”
“All these are a total havoc to the members and commuters. And that was why at the last meeting we held in October, we sent a letter to the state government that the law should be reviewed. And the commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa assured us that our demands would be looked into,” Ekunola said.