Lagos Traffic Law: Govt Boycotts Talks With Okada Union


The Lagos State Government has vowed not to have further talks with the All Nigerian Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association, ANACOWA, which took the government to court over the new traffic law.

ANACOWA had gone to the Ikeja High Court to challenge the state government for banning them from plying 475 roads across the Lagos metropolis.

The government, at a meeting held with transport operators, including various okada unions in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, on Wednesday, said it was already holding talks with okada unions when ANACOWA went to court.

Kayode Opeifa, Commissioner for Transportation, said ANACOWA would be exempted from a meeting between okada riders and Governor Babatunde Fashola, which would hold any moment from now.

The commissioner also vowed to clampdown on okada riders not affiliated to the two recognized transport unions in the state — National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN.

He said there was no going back on enforcing the new law on okada riders, saying that okada riders and tricycles must desist from plying the prohibited routes across the Lagos metropolis.

Opeifa said that the state was being generous by not completely banning okada in the state like some other states in the federation had successfully done , adding that the operators and their leaders must abide by the law.

“The beauty of the law is that we have not banned you as other states have done. We are only telling you to keep off prohibited roads. You can operate from where people can’t get bus to where they can board commuter bus.

“The law is not to witch-hunt the operators but to bring sanity to the state transportation sector. The essence of the law is to create an enabling and safer environment for all the road users in the state.

Opeifa added that government would soon begin arrest of those who imposed illegal levies and tickets on okada riders after it had banned touting in motor parks and highways.

The commissioner said it would no longer condone any form of illegality.

Bayo Sulaiman, Chairman, Lagos Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit warned union leaders to abide by the law as the police and other law enforcement agents were worried seeing okada riders still flouting the law.

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“Do not say you will enforce some part of the law and leave others unimplemented. We don’t want to start pouncing on you in the name of enforcing the law. By the time we begin full enforcement, you may not like it. That is why government is calling on you and other union leaders to warn your members before we start the enforcement properly,” he stated.

Sulaimon added that unions that had sought government’s recognition by claiming affiliation to recognised and registered labour unions such as NURTW and RTEAN but not truly affiliated could be charged with criminal offence.

Meanwhile, he Lagos State Security Council met Wednesday at the Lagos House Marina under the Chairmanship of the State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), with the police in pledging their readiness to begin full enforcement of the law and warning that in the process, nobody would be spared.

The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abubakar Umar Manko, who gave the indication after the meeting, said the delay in enforcement was in order to allow for public enlightenment and all other requirements to be put in place to ensure easy compliance by members of the public.

Fielding questions from newsmen after the meeting, the Police boss explained, “Since the Governor signed it, it has become law. The fact that it has not been massively enforced does not mean that it is not in existence. So we have just finished a meeting. Everybody now knows there is a new law and that law is going to be fully enforced”.

According to the Commissioner, “Government has done its part, public enlightenment has been made, road repairs are going on and there are traffic signs everywhere, therefore, no citizen has the right to say that he does not know. The Police are going to start the enforcement in full and nobody is going to be spared”.

Promising that members of his Command would not disobey the law, Manko declared, “We are going to start full enforcement and we expect compliance to this law from everybody. The contents have been made public, so excuse of ignorance of the law is no more there”.

On “MBER” months, the Commissioner, who described them as no different from other months of the year, said although there may be some challenges the police were fully prepared and would come out en masse to ensure that public peace was not disturbed.

Also speaking on behalf of the Flag Officer, Western Naval Command and Air Officer, Logistics Command, Commander 9 Brigade, Ikeja, Cantonment, Brigadier General Pat Akem, said the Armed forces would sensitise and inform their members to know that they are also subject to the law that has been assented to by the state governor and that compliance is expected from them.

According to him, their members would be made to understand that failure to comply to the law would be viewed very seriously as they are also operating under a democratic dispensation adding, “We will inform our soldiers, our ratings and our air men that they are expected to obey the law and that violation of the law would be viewed very seriously. In fact, they are expected to collaborate with other enforcement agencies to enforce the law”.

Also present at the briefing were the Commanding Officer, NNS Beecroft, Navy Commodore Martins Njoku, Commander 435 Base Services Group, Nigeria Air Force, Air Commodore Tony Omenyi, Director of State Security Service (SSS), Mr. Ben Olayi and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security, Major Tunde Panox (retd).

—Kazeem Ugbodaga

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