21st July, 2010
Commercial motorcycle operators popularly known as â€˜okadaâ€™ riders, in the Ikeja area of Lagos on Tuesday protested against alleged harassment by officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the okada riders, who trooped out in large numbers with leaf branches on their bikes, caused traffic congestion for a few hours before the police intervened.
“We no longer want to see LASTMA officials again on the roadâ€™â€™ and “LASTMA should stop harassing usâ€ were some of inscriptions in the placards they carried.
Some okada riders, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that LASTMA officials harassed them as if they were second class citizens of the state.
Mr. Ismaila Yusuf said that okada riding in the state was no longer an attractive business because “as you set out for the dayâ€™s business with your okada, you may not go back home with it at the end of the day.â€™â€™
Yusuf said that it was frustrating because the business was the only means of his livelihood. Another rider, who simply identified himself as Malam Hassan, said that LASTMA officials beat up okada riders without even disclosing their offence and impounding their motorcycles.
Mr. Jude Ike, a motorcyclist, implored the LASTMA management to enlighten okada riders on their “dos and donâ€™tsâ€™â€™to enable them not to flout government rules.
The Chief Public Relations Officer to the Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Shina Thorpe, said that the okada riders were only protesting the state governmentâ€™s policy to regulate their activities.
Thorpe assured Lagos residents not to entertain any fears, saying that normalcy would soon be restored.