Commercial motorcycles and tricycles’ operators in Lagos State have expressed displeasure over the ban imposed on them by the state government.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how the state government banned the operation of motorcycles (popularly called Okada) and tricycles (Keke) across the state.
Gbenga Omotosho, the commissioner for information and strategy, in a statement Monday, said the decision was taken after a “robust assessment” between the government and the state security council.
The assessment, he said, focused on the safety of using motorcycles and tricycles as a means of transportation. The statement said the casualty figures arising from their use are ‘scary’.
The ban, according to the statement, will be enforced in 15 local governments and local council development areas across the state.
The full enforcement will begin on February 1, the statement said.
‘Life on the fast lane’
Lagos has one of the worst traffic gridlocks across the world. To avoid spending hours in traffic, commuters often patronise faster – and potentially riskier- alternatives like commercial motorcycles.
In recent years, bike companies such as Gokada, O’Ride, and Max.Ng have sprung up across the city to help residents navigate the incessant traffic snarls.
The government’s statement did not state specifically if the ban affects bike companies.
A female keke rider, who pleaded for anonymity, told PREMIUM TIMES that the directive is not only unreasonable but inhumane.
“How do they expect many of us fending for our families through this job to survive? The government has provided no employment, yet, they want to deprive us of your means of livelihood.”
She said the government should prepare for an increase in crime once the ban is effected.
“Many people are not into crime because of this job they are doing, How do they expect them to earn a living without a job,” she added.
Another Okada operator, Jude Eben, said the development is not welcome.
He said the decision of the government will not only affect the operators but also Lagosians who patronise them.
Mr Eben said he hopes the government will reconsider its decision.
“See the rate of traffic on this Ikorodu road, if not for Okada operators, many people would have lost their jobs. People who cannot afford to lose their jobs or have important things to do patronise us after spending hours in the still traffic,” he said.
Franchis Osagie, an Opay rider lamented he will be unable to take care of his family any longer.
Mr Franschis, who hails from Edo, Benin State, said he became a bike rider ”as a result of the situation of the country.”
He appealed to the government to rescind the decision.
“There is no work. If the government can provide work for us, nobody wants to be an Okada rider but it’s not that I don’t like it, it is what I used to take care of my family. I don’t think banning this Okada will be okay for people,” he said.
A Gokada rider, Ojo Oluwaseun, said the ban is not the best decision. Mr Ojo said he resorted to the job as a result of unemployment.
“This issue of banning Okada, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do because we that we are riding this bike we don’t have any other source of income. It will affect a lot of people including the passengers. The government should change its decision.”
Olaoluwa Bakare, a Max Ng Okada rider, also decried the decision of the government. He said the ban will now allow him to take care of his family.
Also, Chinedu Ndugalu, a ‘keke’ man in his late 60s said the decision will affect ”both the riders and passengers”.
He appealed to the government to rescind its decision and establish stringent laws to punish defaulters
“I have been riding keke for 2 years now, so the thing will affect both the operators and the passengers because this is the way we used to get money to take care of our family,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, Bala Elkana, the Lagos police spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES about the readiness of the Lagos Police to curb any upsurge of crime that might result from the ban.
He said the command is ready to deal with all kinds of crimes in the state.
“There is no government that will naturally create hardship for the citizens, whatever decision that is taken, it is for the overall good of everyone,” he said.
Despite acknowledging that there are genuine Okada and Keke operators, Mr Elkana said ”there are some elements that infiltrated their groups creating troubles and hardships, violating traffic, causing accidents and using their Keke and Okada for crimes.”
“We are not lawmakers, ours is to enforce the law, and we are prepared to do that,” Mr Elkana said.
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