2nd September, 2010
As the Lagos State Government, South-West Nigeria began the enforcement ofÂ partial ban onÂ commercial motorcyclistÂ popularly known as Okada yesterday, Lagosians are already groaningÂ over the hardship the governmentâ€™s decision is making them go through.
In some areas, the okada riders appear to have complied with the partial ban. These areÂ specified areas like Ozumba Mbadiwe ( from Bonny Camp â€“ First Roundabout) on Victoria Island,Â Awolowo Road, Gerard Avenue, Alexander Road, Osborne Road, Alfred Rewane Road in Ikoyi and CMSÂ ( outer marina).
The ban also took effect on other routes like Funsho Williams Avenue, Eko Bridge-Akpongbo,Â Murtala Muhammed Way, Jibowu-Yaba-Oyingbo-Iddo-Idumota road, Jibowu to Ikorodu roundabout,Â third mainland bridge, Apapa-Oshodi expressway, all network of roads around Lagos StateÂ Secretariat, Alausa, Moshalasi-Oshodi-Abule Egba- Ogun State boundary and all bridges in theÂ state.
Commuters who usually employ the services of okada riders were stranded at several bus stopsÂ along the affect routes today.
According to P.M.NEWS finding, the presence of police and other security outfits in the state,Â along the banned routes appeared to have compelled the okada riders to comply with the banÂ order. Some stubborn riders are however still defying the order.
On the Third Mainland bridge, no okada rider was seen on that route. The situation was the sameÂ on the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, Ikorodu road andÂ several other roads that are off limits forÂ okada riders.
At Ojota, some okada riders who defied the ban were arrested and their okadas impounded.
Some commuters who spoke with our reporters lamentedÂ the hardship they went through thisÂ morning trying to get to their places of work.
Isioma Okafor, a trader at the Oshodi Market who resides at Agidingbi said: â€œI just came outÂ this morning and noticed that there are fewÂ okada riders on the road. When I asked, they saidÂ itâ€™s because of the new ban order. Look at the heavy traffic, how am I supposed to get to myÂ shop early and do business today?â€
Another commuter called Kemi, who appeared stranded with other commuters at a bus stop alongÂ Awolowo Way, IkejaÂ said the ban is painful for her.
â€œJust look at the road, the buses are not coming because of the heavy traffic at AllenÂ junction. We have been here for hours now. It isÂ really painful that government have toÂ include this route on their ban list.â€
There was, however, business as usual this morning as some Okada riders, defied the order onÂ some routes
P.M.NEWS checksÂ from Abule-Egba to Oshodi show that the ban is hardly effective as okadaÂ riders carried out their operations with reckless abandon. They were seen carrying twoÂ passengers on the ever-busy Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway en route Ikeja.
As if that was not enough, most of them operated without helmets for themselves and theirÂ passengers. They were competing with buses and cars.
At Ikeja yesterday, okada operators rode against the traffic, with some of them riding on roadÂ median. Some LASTMA officials were seen just watching them.
Although there was partial sanity within Ikeja, it was noticed that okada operators still carryÂ school children, loads, pregnant women without helmets which constitutes a breach of the lawÂ guiding their operations.
Because of the ongoing enforcement of the partial ban, a trip from Abule-Egba to Ikeja whichÂ hitherto cost between N250 and N300 now attracts between N400 and N500.
A passenger at the bus stop was seen negotiating with a cyclist for N350 which he blatantlyÂ refused.
â€œIf Iâ€™m arrested, what will I use to settle the officials?â€ the okada rider asked.
He said now that the ban has commenced, law enforcement officials will demand for high bribesÂ and as such, they must make provision for it.
It is now a tug of war as passengers beg and fight in order to ride on bike. Some passengersÂ even fixed higher prices for the operator in order to outdo other passengers.
â€”Henry Ojelu & Ufforth Shallom