21st July, 2011
We all understand the challenges of the times. Low wages amid inflation, the challenges in the education sector, our own health challenges, in fact high mortality rate, unemployment and the problems in the energy sector among several others are making living in this country a hell on earth. Yet we are all managing to face the challenges as if they are everyday things other people feel in other places.
Nigerians are one of the most resilient people in the world and we find our way around corners, trying to live another day, hopeful that the next few hours may usher in a better opportunity to make our lives better.
While many of our roads are bad, the government is grapping with making them motorable but those that use the roads, especially the commercial motorcyclists are making travelling on those roads more dangerous.
Very few families have not been touched by the recklessness of the average okada rider. Lives have been lost and people have been maimed, yet the okada riders have not learnt any lesson. They are rather becoming more daring and dangerous, challenging the authorities to see who would blink first.
The laws restricting them to some roads have been flouted while the law on wearing safety helmets has been cast aside. And the authorities who should enforce these laws seem powerless, or perhaps they are benefiting by not enforcing these laws.
The commercial motorcyclists now ride on the dedicated Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, lane as if they own it. They now carry more than one passenger and have refused to wear safety helmets, daring the government to challenge them.
Okada riders are becoming a monster that we should rein in, and quickly too. Many times armed robbers have used the guise of okada riders to rob and daily new schemes of robbery are perfected, using commercial motorcyclists.
Agreed, the transportation challenges in an overpopulated metropolis like Lagos are enormous but canâ€™t we find a better alternative? Must we, because of our transportation problems, allow a bunch of people to flout the laws with impunity? Are these okada riders above the law?
The authorities, especially the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, and the Lagos Sate Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, must sit up and do their jobs. They must enforce the laws on wearing of helmets, carrying just one passenger and stop using roads from which they have been restricted from plying.
It is time to show those lawless commercial motorcyclists that they are not above the laws of the land. They must be put in their places instead of allowing them to run riot all over the place.
The government had often mouthed an intention to ban them. If this would solve the problem, then do it!
Other states have banned okada and the heavens have not fallen. We have to warn these reckless human beings operating as okada riders that drastic action could be taken against them if they fail to obey the laws of the land.
We cannot build a mega city where some people are above the law and government lacks the will to arrest the situation. Agreed, the challenges of governance are many but the safety of lives is a priority and it is the duty of government to ensure it.
With the problems of the motor park unions and floods ravaging some communities, must we allow the okada rider add to the problems?
Every week people are rushed to the hospitals to treat injuries related to the recklessness of okada riders. Must we allow them kill or maim us all before we decide to take action?
We urge the concerned bodies to begin to enforce the laws and reign in this monster before it consumes us all. Nobody is above the law. If they cannot obey the laws of this place, then they better leave for where lawlessness thrives.