Okada Riders Succumb To Partial Ban In Lagos


Thousands of motorcycles riders in Lagos State, Nigeria have succumb to the Lagos State Government’s ban on them not to ply express and highways across the state, saying they will obey the law.

The Lagos State Government had given the okada riders 1 September, 2010 deadline to quit the state’s express and highways or face prosecution as okada riders ride dangerously on expressways, leading to loss of lives.

At a stakeholders’ Forum on Okada regulating okada riding in the state meant to sensitise riders on government’s decision to ban them from highways in the state, the okada riders succumbed to superior argument of stakeholders and resolved to abide by government’s directives.

Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Lagos State, Alhaji Rafiu Olohunwa under whose umbrella okada riders belonged said “we shall follow what government said.   Whether enforcement or no enforcement, we shall abide by the law.

“The government is right; plying Third Mainland Bridge is a suicide mission.   We want to appeal to government to release to us the motorcycles seized by the taskforce,” he said.

Chairman, Motorcycles Operation Association of Lagos State, MOALS, Mr. Tijani Perkins said security of lives and property was key and that it would not be proper for okada riders to be plying Third Mainland Bridge, saying that the okada riders would obey the government’s directives.

“I think every reasonable rider in Lagos State should know that we are talking about safety here.  The highway drive is suicidal.   Our members do ply Third Mainland Bridge; not only plying it, they ply one way,” he stated.

According to him, while the okada riders would not ply Third Mainland Bridge and some other routes, he begged that okada riders should be allowed to ply the service lane between Jibowu and Mile 12.

He also lamented that the primary objective of the riders card, which the government wanted okada riders to have was not being implemented properly and called for restructuring.

Chairman, All Nigerian Automobile Commercial Owners and Workers Association ANACOWA, Mr. Ade Ikuesan said the restriction on okada riders not to ply certain routes across the state was in order and that his members would abide by the law, adding that “what is at stake is life.   Let us obey the law.”

Mr. Jonas Agwu, Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, Lagos State stated that the need to preserve lives was paramount and that government should not compromise on that, saying that there was the need for training and retraining for okada riders across the state.

Representing the Human Rights group, Comrade Patrick Adelusi, “when government said okada riders should not ply the expressways, it is because government does not want you to die.  Not many motorists are trained who are plying the expressway and they could knock you down.

“We want you to be able to contribute your quota to your family.   This law is not to take you away from your business but for your safety.”

According to Mrs Bisi Olafewo, who represented the women group, this was the right time to checkmate the menace of okada riders in the Lagos metropolis, saying that if the laws were implemented to the letters, it would go a long way in sanitising the system.

Dean, Faculty of Transportation, Lagos State University, LASU, Dr. Bawa Allah added that the need to regulate the activities of okada riders was paramount in order to safeguard the lives of people.

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“What government sets out to do is to bring out the laws that were in existence in the past.  What government is doing today is good,” he stated.

Reverend Bernard Okoduwa, Cahirman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Lagos State appealed to okada riders to imbibe the fear of God in doing their businesses, saying that they should not constitute threat to people’s lives.

“Obey the laws of the state and the land.  Okada riders should not be threat to lives.   Life is precious, both to you and the passenger.   Ensure that after today, things will change,” he said.

Earlier, Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo had disclosed that about 249 Lagosians had been killed in various motorcycle accidents in five months in Lagos, Nigeria, mostly due to carelessness of the riders.

The statistics spans between January and May 2010.  Also, under this duration, about 1,763 accidents involving okada riders were recorded in Lagos State with 249 fatalities.

According to Akpoyibo, 249 fatalities were recorded in five months out of the 1, 763 accidents involving okada riders, saying that okada accidents constituted over 80 percent of the number of accidents recorded within the period.

“In the Lagos area in the past five months, the statistics of accidentsa are: January, 523; February, 376; March, 481; April, 619 and May, 556.   Out of these figures, the following numbers are motorcycle related accidents.

“In January, we have 357 okada accidents, representing 68.3%; February, 256, representing 68.1%; March, 369, representing 76.7%; April, 391, representing 63.2% and May, 390, representing 70.1%,” he disclosed.

Akpoyibo added that “in further analysing the data, the figure for January includes 47 cases in which there were fatalities, 213 cases of injuries, while 97 minor accidents were recorded; in February, 43 cases of fatalities were recorded, 123 cases of injuries and 90 minor accidents; in March, 42 fatalities cases were recorded, 238 cases of injuries and 89 minor accidents.

“In April, 71 cases of fatalities were recorded, 200 injuries and 120 minor accidents.   In May, 46 cases of fatalities were recorded, 196 cases with injuries and 149 minor accidents.”

The police commissioner stated that in all factors identified as causes of okada accidents, recklessness stood out as the most causative factor of motorcycle accidents in Lagos, lamenting that it was common sight to see okada riders ride recklessly on highways, especially during traffic peak periods.

“They switch lanes at will not minding the danger such act portends and are disposed to overtaking by the right contrary to the rule that all overtaking must be done on the left.   They weave in and out of traffic with reckless abandon.

“An ugly twist to all of this is that anytime there is an accident caused by their reckless act, they often mobilised to mob the hapless motorists involved in the accident, even where she is a woman or a highly placed individual in the society.   They have gradually become untameable,” he decried.

Akpoyibo also said that there had been several cases of robbery involving the use of okada, adding that over 70 percent of crime committed in the state were those involving the use of okada.

According to him, although, a large section of the Lagos populace had come to regard okada riders as a necessary evil, it had become imperative for government to intervene if Lagos State is to realise the vision of becoming a mega city that is the first choice destination for investors and tourists.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga

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