Yesterday in Lagos, hundreds of commercial motorcycle (Okada) riders took to the streets in protest of the ban placed on them from plying some major roads. The Okada riders have been banned from 475 roads in the state and they took their protests to Ikorodu road yesterday, destroying government properties in the process.
It was reported that they vandalized some BRT buses along Onipanu and Palmgrove bus stops. Also at Ejigbo, the riders blocked the road, causing traffic jam in the area while they carried leaves and chanted anti-government songs.
However, in response to this, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji threatened to ban the use of Okadas out rightly from the state. He said the House would not hesitate to ban Okada out rightly if the riders continue to destroy government property and constitute nuisance in the State.
It was noted that about 40,000 commercial motorcycle riders would lose their jobs if the Lagos state government implements this ban which is one of the provisions of the new Traffic Law. However, the state governor, Babatunde Fashola made a pertinent point recently when he spoke about the risks associated with driving these motocycles on the high ways.
“Many fathers have lost their children; many husbands have lost their wives; many children have lost both parents. All we are saying is don’t go on the highways. First because we must even understand, Okadas and vehicles are automobiles; they are not toys; they are mechanical devices and therefore for you to even use them you must go and train. That’s why you go to driving school to go and learn; then they certify you. Somebody just pulls okada from any parts of the country he likes, gets onto a truck, he’s going to Lagos and then you entrust your life to that man? As if that was not bad enough, he drives against traffic?“
It is true that many people have lost their limbs, and worse still, their lives to the reckless driving of these Okada riders on the high ways. However, the ban has already put a strain on Lagos residents who are finding it difficult to commute to their various destinations due to the inadequate public transport facilities. On the other hand, the ban would create unemployment on a large scale in the state which might lead to increased crime rate amongst other negative implications.
In such a situation, who should back down? Should the Lagos State Government rescind its decision or should the Okada riders just accept the ban in good faith?
What are your thoughts?