Thousands of Lagosians groaned to their places of work and business on Monday morning following the decision of the state government to ban the operation of commercial motorcycles (popularly known as Okada) and tricycles (also known as Keke) on major roads and highways.
Several commuters trekked more than a kilometre to get to their nearest bus stop and joined other people on long, winding queues waiting for the next available bus.
“I have trekked from my bus stop down to where I got a vehicle, I spent an hour trekking because the distance is far to the nearest bus stop where I usually take bike (Okada),” said a digital marketer at Ikeja who identified herself simply as Miss Oyinlola.
“On Mondays, I get to my office 9 a.m., but today I am still on my way by 10 a.m. We need other alternatives, not a ban policy. I work at GRA Ikeja, the route is not trekkable from Ikeja underbridge.”
Last week, the Lagos government announced the restriction of the operation of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in 15 local governments and local council development areas across the state.
The enforcement began on Saturday, February 1.
But the weight of the ban became evident two days later, on the first working day of the week.
“The masses were not considered, people who do not have cars are really suffering from this situation,” Ms Oyinlola said.
Basit Olanrewaju, a student of Lagos State Polytechnic in Oshodi-Isolo, said he found it difficult to get to school.
“I have a class for 8 a.m., I am still on my way. The situation is bad, a lot of people are trekking there are no bike and tricycle at bus stop. The walking distance is stressful, the government should lift the ban this is becoming more difficult for the citizens.”
A commuter, who identified himself simply as Mr Paul, lamented about his difficulty in getting to his place of business early.
“I have been trekking for the past 20 minutes because there is no bike, if there is bike this will ease up the traffic,” said Mr Paul, a trader at Oshodi.
“If government is concerned about the citizens, the okada riders should be cautioned on how they drive for the benefit of the masses and not for them to be left unemployed.”
Endurance Philip, a salesperson, was among those stranded at a bus stop in Oshodi. She said the government ought to have provided more buses to cushion the effect of the ban
“Places you are supposed to be at a particular time you are not there because you are stranded,” she said.
“The government is not considerate at all, the ban has cost many people their jobs. We need more buses not a total ban and this make the economy more difficult on people.”
Some of the commuters, however, lauded the government’s decision, saying it would help bring sanity to the roads
Adeyemi Seun, a clergyman,described the ban as “a good policy.”
“Movement of the people is not dependent on bikes. We cannot continue to risk lives because there is no alternative to vehicles on highways,” he said.
“The means of transportation that have been banned are unsafe.”
At Ikeja, commercial tricycle operators pleaded with the government to rescind its decision.
An operator at the Computer Village, who identified himself as Dupetie, said he would find it difficult to feed his family.
“I convey people from Ojota to Ikeja but we have been asked to stop working,” Mr Dupetie said.
“It is difficult to feed our families, a lot of motorcycles and tricycle drivers have been arrested. What are we supposed to do? A lot of poor masses ride motorcycles to provide for their families because we cannot steal, we are all frustrated by this new ban policy in the state.”
Mr Samuel, another tricycle driver, said he had been driving for 16 years.
“I sent my children to the university with the money I make from the business, many people have been arrested among us and lots of money have been collected from them to get back their tricycle.
“Government never had a discussion or provide an alternative for us before it was banned. We are not happy, so are the commuters. A lot of them are stranded trying to get to their office and many are still on their way at 10 a.m. on Monday morning. Opebi cost N100 from Ikeja, now bus owners are collecting N200 from people.”