•Over 180 motorbikes impounded
•We’re prepared —PPRO
By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Bose Adelaja & Esther Onyegbula
At least over 180 motorcycles were impounded, yesterday, when commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada riders, attacked men of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences (Task Force) Unit, in Idi-Iraba, Mushin, and Surulere area of the state.
In the ensuing melee, several commercial motorcycles were impounded in the at Ojuelegba Road, down to Idi-Araba area, boundary between Mushin and Surulere in Lagos.
Eyewitnesses’ accounts said nobody died during the incident, which started at about 9am, with some persons sustaining minor injuries, in the cause of scampering for safety.
A petty trader in the area, identified as Mama Ibrahim, said the area was thrown into chaos when men of the state taskforce arrived and, in apparent show of resistance, the Okada riders went wild.
“Unfortunately for them, the enforcement team took them by surprise as the team came prepared and hundreds of commercial motorcycles were impounded.
“Before the arrival of the enforcement team, some of us told the riders to suspend their activities for a while but they boasted that nothing will happen.
“They tried to attack the enforcement team but things didn’t work out as planned and many of them abandoned their bikes and took to their heels.
“After the enforcement team left, the riders angrily returned to the scene, barricaded the road, made bon-fire and attacked people in reprisal, thereby causing chaos in the area.
Commercial activities paralysed
This caused apprehension which paralysed commercial activities and vehicular movement for hours,” she said.
Also, a trader in Idi-Araba, Musa Usman, said the crisis lasted for about three hours as people ran helter skelter while residents locked themselves indoors in fear.
“Transporters in the area hurriedly suspended work to avoid being caught up in the incident,” he said.
Musa said he escaped from the scene by jumping the wall of a building, “Infact, I abandoned my wares and ran for safety. It is when I am alive that I can think of any other thing.”
Recounting what transpired in the area, Sade Odejobi who was to visit a patient at Lagos University Teaching Hospital LUTH, said she ran out of the scene in fear, saying: “Okada riders went on the rampage today. Ojuelegba. Road to LUTH was deserted after the fight. Infact, I have suspended my visit to a patient. I was approaching the hospital gate when people started running and I joined them. I have returned home safely,” she said.
Security operatives, who were at strategic areas, restored normalcy.
Reacting to the incident on his Twitter handle, the Spokesperson, Lagos State Police Command, Superintendent of Police, Benjamin Hundeyin said, “They can’t fight because Taskforce went well prepared. They were just causing a scene after the Task Force left with some of their impounded motorcycles. @rrslagos767 and men from the Area Command have since been drafted there. Absolutely, nothing to worry about,” he said.
180 motorbikes impounded
Also, commenting on the Idi-Araba clash, Spokesman for Lagosd Task Force, Mr. Raheem Gbadeyanka, said there was no cause for alarm as the situation was immediately brought under control.
He disclosed that over 180 motorcycles were impounded, while five people were arrested in the process.
According to Gbadeyanka: “Recalcitrant okada riders attacked our officers during enforcement at Idi-Araba this morning (yesterday), but our men were able to repel the incursion and immediately brought it to a halt. In the process over 180 motorbikes were seized and taken to our yard for crushing soon.
”I use this medium to appeal to okada riders to obey the Lagos traffic law and desist from their illegal operations as anyone caught would be arrested and prosecuted accordingly. No sacred cow.”
Recall that the state government commenced enforcement on ban of Okada in six local governments and nine Local Council Development Area, LCDAs, on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, following the death of a sound engineer, David Imoh, who was killed in an attack in Lekki area of Lagos on May 12, 2022.
The six local governments are Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Apapa, and Surulere.
Over 3,000 impounded motorcycles were crushed by the state government in Ikeja, last weekend.
Meanwhile, despite the ban, Okada riders have continued to operate freely in some of the prohibited routes, like: Apapa, Agege, Egbeda, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, among others.
On Lagos-Badagry expressway, which is among the routes affected by the ban, a few numbers of operators still operate on the route, particularly in the evenings when they feel the taskforce men are off the road.
The road construction and unending traffic along Lagos Badagry route is also responsible for the presence of Okada riders in the area as commercial bus drivers hiked transportation fare.
Hike in fares
Lamenting, a commuter, Esther Chinyere, who works at Apapa said: “Since the ban, commuters often get stranded while going to their various places of work. The cost of transportation has gone up. Bus drivers have taken advantage of the situation because there are no alternatives, the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, buses no longer come to Barracks. The suffering is overwhelming. The government needs to do something urgently.”