By Olawale Abdul-Fatah
Twenty-four hours after vowing to restrict commercial motorcycle operators popular called Okada riders and commercial tricycle operators also know as Keke Marwa, Lagos State Government has backtracked on its decision to take a definite stand against their activities on commercial roads.
The decision to backtrack came after a four-hour security meeting chaired by the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and attended by all commanders of security agencies in the State.
Before the state government’s statement on Sunday, Sanwo-Olu, while responding to questions from journalists on a popular television show, described their activities on the over 400 commercial roads as illegal, stating that a new policy will be introduced to end their illegal activities in the state.
In a statement made available to The Guild on Monday by Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Gboyega Akosile, the state government revealed that definite action will not be taking against Okada riders and Keke operators in Lagos.
It said: “Lagos State Government will not be taking definitive action against illegal operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycles on restricted routes across the State”.
After the meeting, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said that the state government action was informed by the need to achieve a generally acceptable solution to the menace.
Omotoso disclosed that relevant parties and stakeholders had reached out to the Government with suggestions and representation that could be adopted to proffer a win-win solution for all parties on the matter.The Commissioner hinted that the security council was currently considering the suggestions and recommendations submitted to the Government before coming up with definite plans on the Okada menace.
He said: “We have just concluded our routine security meeting, during which issue of Okada and tricycles was discussed exhaustively. For now, no major decision will be taken on the matter. There are several factors for this development, but the main reason is to reckon with various opinions expressed by stakeholders.
“So many people have made representations to the Government concerning commercial motorcycles and tricycles, including human rights groups, unionists and traders. They came up with many reasonable observations; all their views have been collated and are being considered.
“We feel it would not be good enough for the Government to make a final decision on the matter without considering the opinions of the stakeholders. That would be against the spirit of democracy for which the Sanwo-Olu administration stands”.
Decisions to be taken on the matter, the Commissioner said, will reflect the views of all stakeholders and wishes of concerned residents.
Omotoso said the security of lives of Lagos residents and safety of visitors remained paramount to the Government, stressing that the Sanwo-Olu administration would not compromise in this regard.
According to the Commissioner, the ongoing enforcement of the extant Traffic Laws and Okada restriction will go on, pending the final decisions of the Security Council.
The Commissioner added that advocacy was currently on-going to sensitise riders of Okada and tricycles on the need to obey traffic laws.
At the briefing, include the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Moyo Onigbanjo, and Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Fredric Oladehinde.