By Bose Adelaja
There was chaos, Wednesday, in Ikeja, along Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway when scores of commercial motorcyclists popularly called ‘Okada riders clashed with the personnel of Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit (Taskforce) during enforcement of 2012 Lagos State Traffic Rules.
The incident which occurred in the morning caused panic in the axis as many road users scampered for safety.
Eye witnesses’ account said the incident was an offshoot of a clash between the riders and Lagos Taskforce which occurred in Amuwo-Odofin and Mile 2 areas of Lagos on Tuesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday incident was more of a calculated attempt on the personnel as the riders went on rampage and barricading the road.
Though the leadership of the motocyclists have been kicking against activities of Okada riders on the restricted routes in the state but many of the riders have turned deaf ears by extending their activities to the expressway.
On various occasions, the leadership also distanced itself from any member found plying the restricted routes as well as expressways in the state but Vanguard gathered that 90 per cent of the defiant riders do not have valid means of identification from any of the motorcycle riders’ associations in the state.
A senior commercial motorcyclist in Lagos, Alhaji Ambali Mufutau said years back, ‘Okada’ business was well coordinated and regulated under its former union known as Motorcycle Operators Association of Lagos State (MOALS) until the state government split them into various groups and lawlessness grew worse until it grew out of hands.
It was gathered that the Wednesday crises started as soon the personnel arrived Ikeja-Along in their operational vehicles unknown to them that the commercial motorcyclists had strategised before their arrival.
A commercial motorcycle Ibrahim Sarafadeen told Vanguard that some of his colleagues from Amuwo-Odofin joined by miscreants had liased with others in Ikeja, Iyana-Ipaja who also called for a reinforcement from Sango\Tollgate and as soon as the personnel arrived Ikeja-Along, the riders did not give them any breathing space.
The riders were said to have taken over the road, made bon fire and attacked the personnel with pebbles, sticks broken bottles and other dangerous weapons.
Also, they were said to have attempted set the operational vehicles ablaze but for the fact that the personnel took off on sensing danger but the defiant riders were said to have launched a chase after the personnel.
The aftermath of the attack saw the personnel retreating to their operational vehicles which zoomed off immediately.
The Wednesday clash was the second one within a space of 24 hours in the state.
On Tuesday, the task force officers reportedly seized over 70 motorcycles around Second Rainbow, Festac Town over infraction of traffic laws, which resulted in a clash between the personnel and the okada riders.
Vanguard checks revealed that most of the motocycles plying the restricted routes are allegedly owned by law enforcement operatives and as soon as traffic rules are to be enforced, they put a call across the owners of the motorcycles to foil presumed arrests or impoundment of the motorcycles.
A union leader of the commercial motorcycles Ridwan Azees said the various riders’ associations in the state had cried out to the government to assist them to curb the excesses of some unregistered riders who have been flagrantly disobeying the state traffic rules by riding against traffic or plying restricted routes and expressways.
The state Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers NURTW, did not respond to his calls.
Also, the Public Affairs Officer of the Taskforce, Adebayo Taofik could not be reached at press time.