Lagos Gives Okada Riders Fresh Ultimatum

Gov. Babatunde Raji Fashola.

Gov. Babatunde Raji Fashola.

The Lagos State Government in South-West Nigeria, has issued a fresh 21-day ultimatum to commercial motorcycle operators, also known as okada riders to stop plying the state’s highways or face the music.

Gov. Babatunde Raji Fashola.

With the new ultimatum, which takes effect from 1 September, okada riders are not expected to ply Third Mainland Bridge, Ikorodu Road, Victoria Island, the entire Lagos Island Business Districts, among others.

In order to ensure that no one raises eyebrow when the enforcement would start in full force, the state government has kicked off sensitisation campaign to warn okada riders to stay off the restricted highways.

At the official opening of the campaign, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele said that the present decision by the state government was as a result of the frequent outcry by Lagosians because of the high rate of accidents among the motorcycle operators.

Bamidele said that the constitution does not recognise motorcycle as a means of transportation but that for the time being, the state government had resolved to scrutinize their operations rather than place an outright ban on them.

“You know of BRT, you know of LAGBUS, you know about other transportation systems and, of course, you know about the steps being taken by the government to ensure that the rail system works and also in trying to ensure that the water transportation system is effective in the state.

“As we confront issues of public transportation both in respect to transportation by air, rail, water and by road, we have to manage the activities of okada riders to see how best to protect lives and property in the process. Government has decided to be proactive in ensuring that both the okada riders and the public are familiar with its thinking  and its philosophy in that regard,” he said.

Bamidele disclosed that part of the sensitisation campaign is a road show which would take law enforcement officials round major parts of the city of Lagos by mobile billboard vehicles operated by WOW Mobile Billboard Company, led by Mr. Tokunbo Odebunmi.

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He added that the essence was for members of the public to appreciate the resolve of government to enlist the support of members of the public to join the campaign to save lives by ensuring compliance.

Bamidele, however, solicited for maximum understanding between the motorcyclists and other road users to ensure adequate compliance with the new regulation as the fine against violation would include both.

Recognising that these regulations might discourage some riders from the business, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa advised that the various skills and Acquisition Centres in the state were open to all to acquire one skill or the other and that government had also made provisions with Micro-finance Banks to give out loans to successful and interested graduates from the Skill and Acquisition Centres.

Opeifa, reiterated that the campaign was essentially to enlighten the public on the need to save lives by ensuring compliance with traffic rules and regulations as they apply to okada riders in the state.

Some of the new order by the state government include restriction of motorcycle use among pregnant women, school age children and women with children on their backs.

The law further states that motorcyclists should avoid riding against traffic and direction prohibited by law.  They should also ensure strict compliance with the use of crash helmets for both the rider and passenger, among others.

In the campaign, some routes were identified as “no go area” for motorcyclists.  The Lagos State government has, however, made adequate alternatives such as the provision of BRT buses, taxi, ferry and tricycles in order to ameliorate the negative impact of the directive.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga

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