Mixed reactions greeted the complete ban on the activities of commercial motorcycle riders, otherwise known as okada riders, in six local government areas in Lagos State, Daily Trust reported on Saturday.
JThe ban, which was announced by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, came into effect on June 1 in Ikeja, Surulere, Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island, Apapa and their Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) .
Although the decision received praise and praise from a section of stakeholders, there are also fears that it could lead to increased crime by banned operators and abuse by security guards. Commuters also fear it will complicate the state’s poor transportation system. Also, many ask what options okada riders have now.
A factory worker in Apapa, identified simply as Jeremiah, who lives in Abaranje in Ikotun, said he spent between three and four hours a day enduring the torturous journey from his home to his place of work.
“I leave home at 5 a.m. and plan to arrive at work at 8 a.m., but sometimes I don’t arrive until 9 a.m. Without the deal I have with my supervisor, I would have been fired by now,” he said.
With decades of underinvestment in the public transportation sector and a poor transportation management system, coupled with a growing population in the state, Jeremiah, like most low-paid factory workers, faces going between three and four hours from his house at Ikotun in Apapa, where he works. In Lagos, a 30 km drive can take five hours or more.
For those residing in areas like Ikotun, Okokomaiko, Iyana-Ipaja and Abule-Egba, almost 80% of their daily commute is on commercial motorbikes.
Lagos Island has been added to the list of okada-prone areas with the closure of the Apongbo Bridge, caused by a recent fire.
Many customs officers from Apapa and Tin-Can Island commands, as well as other uniformed men, also use bicycles for their trips.
A customs official on Tin-Can Island, who does not wish to be named, said he would park his car at Amuwo-Odofin and travel to work by motorbike.
He said it was not possible to drive to the office due to the endless traffic jam along the Mile 2-Tin-Can Island highway.
“The road is messy. Also, I cannot afford to risk my life struggling with truckers who have no respect for human lives,” he said.
He has a special rider who takes him from Amuwo-Odofin to Tin-Can Island in the morning and brings him back in the evening.
The mid-level officer, who revealed he resides in Ago-Palace Way, Okota, said the only reason he would drive is because he leaves his office very late.
Similarly, some customs agents said that even the general managers of some Apapa companies sometimes visit their offices on okada as well.
Customs and freight forwarders have asked the state government to exclude Apapa from the affected areas.
Abdul Sulaimon, a clearance officer who resides in Ijanikin, said banning the activities of bikers amounts to punishing those residing in areas such as Apapa, Tin-Can, Ikotun and Okokomaiko.
“Until the road is completed, okada runners should be allowed to work,” he said.
But Raphael Adewole, a lawyer, has a different opinion. He said okada drivers should not be allowed on the Mile 2-Badagry highway, insisting that a good number of them are reckless.
“A good number of lives have been lost while many have also been confined to wheelchairs. They attack drivers at the slightest provocation. Look how they almost invaded a police station in Ojo. They are gradually becoming emboldened every day by their reckless attitude,” he added.
Runners move to other regions
For fear of being arrested and losing their bikes, some okada riders are now moving to areas not covered by the ban.
There is an upsurge in horse riding activities in some areas, such as Abule-Egba, Igando, Ikotun, Ojo, Ajangbadi, Ijanikin and Badagry.
Ahead of the June 1 deadline, the leader of the Arewa Okada Riders in Lagos, Musa Haruna Gazamma, said Daily Trust Saturday in a phone interview, some of the runners had already fled the state while others had moved to other local government areas to continue earning a living.
Gazamma added that there are many rotten eggs among the okada riders, mostly foreigners who the government needs to get rid of.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Arewa community on Sunday called on state security agencies to identify and arrest criminal elements posing as okada riders. Coming from an extraordinary meeting, he expressed his support for all measures taken by the Lagos State Government in its efforts to protect the lives and property of Lagosians. It also decided unanimously that all its members must abide by the provisions of the laws of Lagos State.
A statement released after the meeting and signed by the Secretary General of the Arewa Community of Lagos State (LASACOMM) noted that the restriction of commercial motorbike riders in certain local government areas was not new. because it existed for more than 10 years. .
The community stressed the need for adequate data on each operator and called on the Lagos State government to be vigilant and take punitive action against bad eggs within security agencies.
“We condemn in full, the activities of all criminal elements, who are mostly foreigners from the Republic of Niger, Chad, Cameroon and other neighboring countries, who have infiltrated the ranks of the real bikers, thereby perpetrating all forms of criminality in Lagos State and constituting serious crimes. threats to the life and property of the people of Lagos,” the statement read.
The Arewa community has also urged the Nigeria Immigration Service to step up its efforts along the borders to control the influx of foreign elements entering the country without real intent.
He also called on the Lagos State Government to support its development programs which include logging, data generation and compliance monitoring as well as the 2 to 4 wheeler upgrade program.
Lagos to establish mobile courts to try riders and passengers
Lagos State Police Commissioner Abiodun Alabi had unveiled the state government’s plan to establish mobile courts to try any driver and passenger apprehended from June 1.
On a morning show on national television, Alabi said that from June 1, his men would ensure that anyone flouting the law would not get away with it.
“We were able to put together a strategy, and that’s why the governor gave them 12 days’ notice. From June 1, we will ensure that no one flouts this law and gets away with it. There is a plan to establish a mobile court that will try both passenger and rider. They will be judged instantly.
“We have been enforcing the ban on okada since February 1, 2020 when it was announced, but you see, there has been a laxity on the part of officers to enforce the law. But I think the ban on okada is not a new issue for police officers in Lagos. All we have to do is enforce the law. What is going to be different now is that officers will work effectively to enforce the law and make sure drivers are not allowed to drive on roads where they are banned,” he said.
The commissioner also said that the police discovered that the majority of okada drivers were unlicensed and many of them were criminals.
“We had arrested many of them with locally made guns during our operations. We know they are using Okada constituency as a disguise to perpetrate evil in so many communities. This is why we had dialogues and meetings with their union. And in doing so, I think the best solution is to remove them from our roads,” he added.
While he agreed that banning the okada precinct could increase the crime rate due to unemployment, he assured that the state government was already putting strategies in place to deal with the situation.
Alabi said the command would no longer tolerate the violent nature of bikers, who commit unprovoked attacks on members of the public.
He said 35 suspects were arrested for attempting to invade a police station in Ojo, while 195 motorbikes were seized.
85% compliance as the government crushes 2,000 motorbikes
The chairman of the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offenses Unit (Taskforce), Shola Jejeloye, revealed on Friday that 85% compliance had been recorded during the last three days of the ban on commercial motorcycles in the state. State.
Jejeloye made the revelation during the crushing of commercial motorcycles seized during the enforcement of the ban.
According to Jejeloye, enforcement of the ban would continue, to ensure environmental health.
He said: “Since June 1 there has been over 85% compliance in the sense that we no longer see Okadas on the roads, on the highway. The number has dropped considerably.
Another phase will start on Monday as there is no turning back on the enforcement of the okada ban. The government does not mock its policies and decisions.
Information and Strategy Commissioner, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, urged okada runners to embrace the many alternative modes of transport provided by the government, as there were plans to inject more buses from the first and of the last kilometer in the metropolis.
Transport Commissioner Dr Frederick Oladeinde noted that the government is reforming the transport sector and integrating all the different modes of transport to enable residents to switch between modes seamlessly and pay with a single ticket.
First and last mile buses deployed by the government, he said, will help transport residents to where okada operations are limited.
Oladeinde urged the people of Lagos State to remain calm and go about their lawful business without fear, saying the government has provided an alternative to Okada.