29th November, 2011
The Lagos State Government has begun a massive clampdown on commercial motorcyclists, a.k.a. Okada riders with the arrest of over 200 yesterday.
The government, after due consultation with the relevant Okada ridersâ€™ associations gave the riders a period of grace which expired by midnight on Sunday. The clampdown began yesterday in all the affected zones.
The clampdown is coming on the heels of orders by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola to the state Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, to ensure that Okada riders obey the traffic laws of the state.
Opeifa declared last Thursday that â€government can no longer watch and allow Okada riders break the laws of the state with impunity.â€
In the new regulations guiding the operations of okada riders in the state, Okada riders are not allowed to operate without a valid riderâ€™s licence; a standard crash helmet with full head protection; carry more than one passenger; carry pregnant women, school children and load and drive against traffic. They have also been banned from operating beyond 10 p.m. in all parts of the state except Victoria Island and Ikoyi, Ikeja GRA where they were restricted from operating beyond 8 p.m.
Okada riders have also been banned from plying the expressway, bridges, Awolowo Way, Bank Anthony Way and some other roads in the Lagos metropolis.Â The police, officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA and other security agencies have been directed to arrest any Okada operator found to have violated the law.
General Manager, LASTMA, Engineer Babatunde Edu confirmed that aggressive enforcement of the law had begun and that over 200 Okada riders had been arrested so far.
He lamented that several criminal activities were being perpetrated through the use of Okada by men of the underworld.
Governor Fashola, who was bitter about the menace posed by Okada riders, vowed that the enforcement would be total. To show his seriousness, he personally led a team of officials to arrest five Okada riders who drove against the traffic in Apapa area of the state last week.Â Fashola disclosed that a new policy was in the offing to deal decisively with the problems posed by Okada riders.
â€œAs I have said to all those who cared to listen, if Okada is a problem to you, stop using it; because it is a business and if you donâ€™t patronize it, it will leave you alone,â€ he stated.
The governor arrested more Okada riders driving against the traffic on Sunday in Badagry during his tour of ongoing projects in the state.
â€œYou will see my next line of action in the fullness of time, but I think ultimately Lagosians must decide whether or not they want Okada.
â€œIn the meantime, they have to comply with our rules and if they donâ€™t, they will have the law enforcement agencies to contend with. We will not allow this incessant and sheer disregard for our laws, those who cannot comply should leave our state.â€
Rising from the state Security Council meeting last week, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Mr. Tunde Sobulo disclosed that a new policy on commercial motorcycle is on the way to deal with errant riders who still disobey government rules and regulations on the operation of commercial motorcycles (Okada) on the stateâ€™s roads.
According to him, â€œOkada riders are still giving us problems. They are still riding against the traffic and carrying two to three passengers and without helmet. Majority of the culprits are those that are not members of the motorcyclistsâ€™ unions. There is nothing to identify them with. But I believe there is going to be a policy soon and when it is out we will know how to deal with them.â€
â€” Kazeem Ugbodaga