Okada ban: PERHAPS for the umpteenth time in the past 20 years, the Lagos State Government has announced a ban on the use of motorcycles and tricycles for commercial transport, this time in six local government areas, LGAs, nine local government development areas, LCDAs, 10 major highways and 40 bridges, flyovers and causeways in the state.
Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, reeled out frightening figures to support the necessity for the action: over 10,000 accidents between 2016 and 2019 at the General Hospitals involving over 600 deaths and a skyrocketing crime wave, according to the Police.
In addition, the operators of this mode of commercial transport have absolutely no regard for traffic and road use regulations and contribute a lot in exacerbating the gridlocks in the metropolis.
Most important is the potential of these okada riders to perpetrate sectarian terrorism in the nation’s economic capital. Most of them are from terror-prone parts of the country and the West African sub-region, and the Police have often caught consignments of motorcycles with AK-47 and AK-49 assault rifles and magazines concealed in them.
With no less than 1,300 herdsmen terror cells identified in the South West and Edo State alone, these highly organised and mobile dare-devil bike operators are capable of throwing the system into a chaos of epic proportions.
We are strongly in support of restricting them to the designated inner city roads and keeping them off the highways. But we frown on the idea of eradicating them altogether from whole LGAs and LCDAs. That was unnecessary; the people need them to move around the localities.
The Lagos State Government enacted the Traffic Law in 2012 and recharged it in 2018.
Lack of determination to faithfully implement the law (perhaps due to political considerations) and the weakness and corruption of our law enforcement agencies emboldened more and more people to take up okada and keke as a means of escaping unemployment.
Our question: Is the LASG ready now to implement this law round the clock and to the letter? We seriously doubt it. There are only 434 Bus Rapid Transport, BRT, buses in a Lagos metropolis which needs at least 6,000 such buses. The promised release of 65 more buses will be a mere drop in the ocean.
If the LASG had worked hard enough to actualise the Lagos – Badagry monorail, completed the BRT scheme, opened up the waterways and completed the 4th Mainland Bridge as planned, it would have been much easier to remove the motorcycles, tricycles and yellow buses from the Lagos highways without subjecting the people to the current hardship.
Without providing the people with an effective alternative means of mass transit, this effort could collapse again and we may return to square one.