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LASG goes tough on Okada, Keke operators

By Olawale Abdul-Fatah

Worried by the menace on Lagos roads, the State Government has concluded plans to halt activities of commercial motorcycle operators popularly called Okada riders and commercial tricycle operators also known as Keke-Marwa, to reduce fatalities and restore sanity on the roads.

The State government on Sunday stressed that decision to regulate their activities on Lagos roads became necessary considering the flagrant violation of 2018 traffic law by the operators, endangering lives of other road users especially commuters.

Before now, hints on Okada and Keke-Marwa operators’ fate were disclosed barely two weeks ago when Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, said that the State Government will be unveiling a new policy to address their menace.

In a statement signed by Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, who stressed that menace of Okada riders and Keke operators can no longer be condoned, affirmed that ongoing enforcement of traffic laws will be stepped up to check motorcyclists and motorists violating the laws.

The Commissioner explained that violation of traffic laws by commercial motorcyclists was unacceptable, thereby necessitating the enforcement of the State Traffic Law 2018 to pave the way for implementation of the present administration’s transportation project.

While recalling reasons for introduction of traffic law in 2012 before it review in 2018, Omotoso emphasized that the law mandates riders and passengers to use safety helmets, obedience of traffic lights and conveyance of more than a passenger, even as it forbids expectant women, adults with babies, as well as children of school age from riding.

According to him, their operations were restricted on 475 roads, including highways and bridges. And we cannot fold our arms and watch them disrupt the peace of the State. Over 1500 accidents involving tricycles were reported across the State from 2015 till 2019 while over 70 died and 250 were injured”.

He added that 30 robbery cases involving motorcycles were reported in 2019, out of which 20 were foiled by the Police, who arrested 25 suspects and recovered 48 arms and ammunition.

Omotoso, while reeling out statistics from Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), disclosed that no fewer than 619 people were killed or seriously injured in motorcycle accidents within 2015 and 2016, noting that a police report released during the same period indicated that of the 30 armed robbery cases recorded between July and September, commercial motorcycle riders perpetrated 22.

“Over 200 cases of motorcycle accidents have been recorded monthly at health facilities across the State in the last three years”, the commissioner declared.

Bemoaning the era of indecency exhibited by motorcycle and tricycle riders, the Commissioner stated that their consistent and brazen disregard for the law, in addition to drug abuse by many should be a matter of concern for Lagosians.

“Okada is being used to escape after robberies. Besides, the influx into the State of many riders without traceable addresses and valid means of identification, in spite of the provision for a rider’s permit, remains a huge security and safety threat to residents,” the Commissioner said.

He asserted that “Aside from the sheer size of the industry, the level of indiscipline, security concerns and, particularly, the level of fatalities being recorded daily, demand appropriate and very serious sanctions. The government, in line with its T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda, is addressing the challenge decisively.”

The Commissioner affirmed that the resolve to strengthen security has reinvigorated the government’s commitment to instilling sanity in the operation of ‘Okada’ and ‘Keke’ business.

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