‘Okada’ Returns To Restricted Roads In Lagos

Nigeria News takes a look at the gradual return of commercial motorcyclists to some restricted roads in Lagos.

Before he left office, the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola strictly enforced the ban of commercial motorcycles operation on 450 roads across the metropolis.

The state policy on transportation was very clear and it was obvious that it worked because the motorcycle operators complied. For a few months, commuters complained but had to adjust to the new order, either by trekking some distance or resorting to boarding buses.

The ban on “Okada”, expectedly increased the number of tricycles, “Keke NAPEP” on some of the roads and government has no option than to allow them to move residents from one point to another.

As at today, cab operators have joined the array of transporters along the popular Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja. They are not painted in Lagos colour, except the smaller yellow buses that shuttle Ikeja New Garage to Lagos State Secretariat.

The operation of the smaller shuttle was authorized by the state government, following the ban of “Keke NAPEP” between Radio Bus Stop and the secretariat.

And for the civil servants to get to the office, the shuttle buses were allowed on the route. The Lagos Shopping Mall, popularly called “Shoprite” is at Alausa, beside the secretariat. It is another destination that attracts a high volume of traffic.

But, one was surprised on Saturday to see hundreds of “Okada” riders at the Allen Junction. It is one of the restricted areas for commercial motorcyclists.

The operators parked, waiting for commuters to jump in for a ride in broad daylight. It seemed the traffic policemen and the officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASMA that stood around had compromised.

Have the “Okadas’ returned to Lagos? The question flew into my brain and before I could say it loud, a colleague sitting beside me echoed it. It is not only in Ikeja, the “Okada” is crippling back into the metropolis at an alarming rate.

This is the little things, the present Governor Akinwunmi Ambode will have to address if Lagos must become a megacity.

Besides the fact that the “Okada” operation will disrupt the environmental law of the state, its proliferation is an invitation to armed robbery.

Before the ban on Okada, many of the robbery incidents in Lagos were perpetrated using motorcycles. Bags were snatched on a daily basis until the state placed a ban.

It was observed on Saturday that most of the “Okada operators” were northerners. One is not trying to demonise the northern people but it is obvious that they are ignorant of the Lagos State environmental law.

The number of northerners that enter Lagos daily is in hundreds. They have come to seek greener pasture and a lot of them take to Okada riding. They are new and ignorant of the law. They ply the restricted roads without fear of being arrested.

They also suffer at the hands of some policemen who hide at street corners to apprehend them. Most times, the cops collect all what the poor “Okada rider” has made to augment their own living.

Before the operation is blown out of proportion, there is the need for the government to nip it in the bud. 

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