The Lagos State Government has concluded plans to completely ban the operations of Commercial motorcyclists popularly called Okada riders and end the nuisance as well as security challenges allegedly posed by the riders to Lagosians particularly commuters across the state.
To the government, commercial motorcycle operation was not part of its transportation master plan that include waterways, rail, as well as road, and that it formed reasons for placing a ban on their movements on major roads, highways, and bridges as well as restricted their operations to inner roads and other non-motorable roads across Lagos.
And to ensure that the residents of Lagos that rely on the commercial motorcyclists were not left stranded and can have easy movements on inner roads, the state government was already planning to deploy seven-seater mini-buses on inner roads across the state and planned to roll out at least 2,000 buses beginning from this month, May 2021.
Although previous governments had planned to phase the operators’ off-Lagos roads but were unsuccessful which had often made the commercial motorcyclists obey the Road Traffic law whenever any of the previous administration threaten to enforce aspect of the Lagos transport master plan that affects their businesses.
But months after, the Okada riders return to the restricted routes which commercial vehicle operators and private car owners described as an act that often allegedly constitutes a nuisance on major roads especially competing for the right of way with them.
The menace which became the subject of discussion among Lagosians was considered for discussion earlier at the Ramadan lecture held in Marina, Victoria Island, and at the 3rd Session of the 34th Synod of the Diocese of Lagos, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
At the Ramadan lecture, the National Missioner Ansar-ul-deen Society of Nigeria, Abdul-Rahman Ahmad, raised concerns over the government silence on the operators across the state, describing the current administration’s body language as the reasons for the lawlessness on Lagos roads by the Okada riders.
Responding, the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said that the government has designed an alternative to Okada and that the replacement is a seven-seater mini-bus that would be used to phase out the Okada operators in the state.
Sanwo-Olu added that when the mini-buses code-named First Mile-Last Mile Route (FMLM) are deployed, the government would not order that the Okadas riders leave Lagos rather would be encouraged to embrace the transportation business and do away with their motorcycles.
He noted that the lack of alternative means of transportation had been the reason the government had not fully enforce the road traffic law as expected on the commercial motorcycle operators in Lagos.
The governor explained that when the mini-buses which would serve as the alternative and better means of transportation on inner roads are deployed, the government can finally order that all Okada should leave the roads completely.
“When we provide this alternative transportation system, we can then tell the operators that we have created an alternative for the people to move on the inner roads. So, we can then tell them that their services are no longer required in Lagos. And the road traffic law can then be enforced completely”.
Ahead of the inauguration, as gathered, the state ministry of Transportation had started finalising the mode of operation for the mini-buses that are expected to pick Lagosians from their doorstep and return them after completing their daily journey, to reduce Lagosians dependence on commercial motorcyclists within the state.
Also, the ministry in collaboration with the Lagos State Taskforce on Environment and special offenses has intensified daily clamping down on Okada across the state with over 2,000 already impounded.
In fact, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, disclosed at a ministerial news conference organised to mark the second year of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in office, explained that over 2,000 Okadas have been impounded since the new phase of enforcement started last month.
To ensure that the mini-buses do not experience hitches at the initial stage, he said the government would not backtrack on the ongoing Okada enforcement because they were not expected to ply major highways across the state.
The commissioner further argued that the commercial motorcyclists have been discovered to exhibit outright disregard for the Lagos traffic law that prohibited their operations on major roads within Lagos.