1st December, 2011
The recent clampdown on the ubiquitous commercial motorcyclists by the Lagos State government is a move in the right direction, especially if it is sustained and not allowed to go to seed like earlier moves to tame this reckless group.
For the past few years, when commercial motorbikes became a common feature on the landscape of the state, not a few Lagosians have been killed or maimed, some for ever.
Several times government has made attempts to tackle this growing menace but the daily-growing group has thwarted everyone of them. Those who ought to enforce the laws have not helped matters either and through their connivance or nonchalance, Okada riders have continued to do what they desire, unchecked.
Commercial motorcyclists have been linked with several crimes which include armed robbery, assassination and even rape, while efforts to check their activities have been rebuffed by the lawless group. They have become so bold that a few years ago, they stormed the Federal Road Safety Commissionâ€™s Ojodu office, damaging property and unleashing mayhem on the hapless officers who were only doing their duty.
The new regulations guiding the operations of commercial motorcyclists may tame them, but then it may not if those who are supposed to enforce these laws turn to graft and favouritism.
We believe however that motorcycles, commercial or otherwise, have become part of our everyday lives, which is why government should look for ways of streamlining its laws so that it does not hamper genuine business.
Corporate bodies like banks, courier companies and newspaper houses cannot operate effectively without motorcycles. If these businesses must operate, then it is important that the government fashion out a way in which their operations are not jeopardised.
We all realise the growing menace of commercial motorcycle business, which is why several states, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has banned its use in theÂ metropolis, yet we must be careful not to inhibit the operations of genuine businesses in the city of Lagos.
The sometimes chaotic traffic situation in the state has made the use of motorcycles inevitable if business must survive, and a blanket ban on motorcyclists would definitely hurt, if not kill, some business concerns.
Motorbikes, we believe, can be modified to carry only the rider and whatever documents its riders would deliver at their destinations. Special identity cards can be issued to such firms that use this mode of transportation for their businesses and strict law enforcement should be applied to forestall abuse, no matter the situation.
A good policy must not be allowed to constitute a hindrance to genuine business and Lagos State can do it right, if it really wants to.