23rd August, 2010
The impending stakeholdersâ€™ forum on commercial motorcycle operations in Lagos State is very timely considering the increasing involvement of the riders in accidents and violent crimes like armed robbery. Past efforts aimed at sanitising the operations of the motorcycle riders have yielded little or no result. They operate as if they are a law unto themselves. The riders hardly obey traffic rules and regulations. Their involvement in crime makes their case worse.
The traffic chaos they cause has been made worse by the influx of the operators from neighbouring countries like Niger, Chad, etc. These riders donâ€™t obey traffic rules and regulations let alone understand what these rules are. The influx of riders from Abuja, Calabar and other state capitals that have banned commercial motorcycle operators has compounded the menace they hitherto posed in Lagos.
They are so many riders now in the metropolis that law enforcement agencies find it difficult to control them. These riders have many things in common: They ride recklessly, beat traffic light and are never ready to subject themselves to constituted authority. They park at dangerous spots, on medians and restricted areas.
There is always a violent confrontation between them and traffic officials whenever they flout traffic rules. Their registered unions are so helpless that they canâ€™t even regulate the operations of their members. The restriction on their activities by the state government is never obeyed. The menace they pose to themselves and other road users has often led to calls for their outright ban in Lagos. It is because of their unending nuisance on the roads that their operations were banned in Abuja and Calabar where many believe commercial motorcycle operations began in the early 80s.
We expect the Lagos State government to take a decisive action to sanitise their activities which have gone out of control. Government must safeguard the lives of other road users. It is for this reason that we support the stakeholdersâ€™ forthcoming forum which, according to the government, is part of its resolve to checkmate the menace of commercial motorcycle riders (okada) operation and ensure sanity on Lagos roads. Interestingly, the general public, stakeholders including motorcycle riders, transport unions, human rights groups, the media, security formations, religious organisations, etc, are expected at the forum whose outcome should promote safety, security and orderliness on the roads.
It is an opportunity for the government to resolve its dilemma over what to do to stem the menace posed by the riders on Lagos roads. However, it is not enough to hold this kind of forum after which the decisions taken are allowed to gather dust inside files. The decisions reached must be implemented, no matter how harsh they are. The safety of every road user should be paramount to any responsive and responsible government. We believe the state government wonâ€™t allow okada riders to continue to endanger the lives of other road users.