By Sam Onyekachi
ALL over the country, the nuisance of Okada and Keke’s riders has become a major subject of discourse. Being the commercial nerve centre of the country, it is not surprising that the activities of Okada and Keke riders have been a serious nuisance at the nation’s ‘Centre of Excellence’.
In almost every part of the metropolis, Okada and Keke riders have constituted themselves into a nuisance.
They ride recklessly, flouting traffic rules at will. And whenever they are apprehended by law enforcement agents, they resort to unbelievable acts of violence.
It is no longer news that, in Lagos, not a few Okada and Keke riders are fond of contravening traffic laws in irresponsible fashion. For instance, the BRT lanes are strictly dedicated for BRT buses, but most of them flout the rule with impunity.
Sadly, the unruly penchant of Okada and Keke riders for disobeying simple traffic rules and regulations often lead to traffic snarls that give room for social miscreants to rob motorists of valuable items as well as other unsocial acts such as vandalisation of vehicles.
More so, most of them are quite lawless. They not only ride against traffic, they usually carry more than the required number of passengers, just as they stop to pick passengers at undesignated places and over speed, among many other dangerous acts. As earlier stated, each time they are stopped by law officers, they take to harassing and even beating them up.
It is in view of the foregoing that one will really like to applaud the Lagos State government for coming up with the order restricting the activities of Okada and Keke riders in six local government areas and nine local council development areas of the state. With this latest development, the state government has shown itself as one that takes a scientific and methodical approach to governance.
Indeed, there is no better way for the government to demonstrate that it is a listening one than through such a well-thought-out measure against the nuisance of Okada and Keke riders in the state.
Before now, many of us have been crying out loud in the social media and other such platforms against the unruly attitude of Okada and Keke riders in Lagos, especially in the past few months.
For me, the worst hit is the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway axis where they have become astonishingly anarchic in their conduct. Well, many other residents have similar ugly experiences in their respective axis.
They act as if there is no government in place. Any government that condones such impunity doesn’t deserve the respect of the populace. For all I care, the unruly attitude of these chaps far overshadows whatever good argument anyone might want to bring up in support of Okada and Keke as means of transportation. Therefore, I see the order restricting the activities of Okada and Keke riders in the state as one primarily meant to protect the interest of the public. It is meant to ensure that people do not ride on Okada along routes that could put their lives and those of others in jeopardy.
Universally, one of the major responsibilities of government is the protection of lives. Hence, the Lagos State government is only performing one of its constitutional duties in restricting Okada activities in the state.
Consequently, it is only logical that all stakeholders cooperate with the state government in ensuring the success of the restriction order. The restriction is about preserving lives. We must, therefore, work together with the government to preserve lives. The difference between animal kingdoms and human societies is that in the latter laws are made to regulate human conducts in order to avoid the creation of a state of anarchy.
In a generation where green environment and environmental sustainability are being vigorously pursued against the threat of global warming to man’s existence, advocating for a motorcycle as a means of transportation would be out of order.
Therefore, the idea of motorcycles as means of transportation is actually a sign of retrogression, especially in these days of fast trains and blue rails that Lagos State is embarking on.
Motorcycles have worse pollution control mechanisms. The smog emitted from bikes not only poses serious health risks like pulmonary diseases but also contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Therefore, to guarantee the free-flow of traffic and to ensure that the movement of investors coming into the state as well as that of residents is not hindered and put at risk, the current restriction order becomes quite necessary.
No doubt, every attempt to sanitise and restore order to the hitherto chaotic situation on most of our roads should be embraced, especially going by the traffic situation in Lagos. That is what any responsible government should do.
Onyekachi, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Lekki, Lagos