Fashola-Okada: When The Going Was Good

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In the heat of electioneering campaign for the 2011 Governorship election, the romance between Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State and commercial riders,  popularly called okada riders, was very cordial. They were the best of friends.

Okada riders even campaigned aggressively for the re-election of the governor. In the picture above, thousands of okada riders rode behind the governor in the heat of the campaign.

Fashola even bought thousands of helmets for okada riders and they all with one accord said ‘ride on baba.’

Now, the romance has gone sour after the election and after the governor had coasted  home to victory.  The governor promulgated a law that banned okada riders from plying 475 strategic roads in the Lagos metropolis.

In the last two weeks, thousands of motorbikes are still impounded. Okada riders are now on the run while the police are giving the chase.

Are the okada riders now regretting that they championed the campaign of Fashola and that the finger which they nourished has now made a u-turn to bite them?

Why the ban? Statistics from the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA and the police speak volumes.

In the last two years, 107 people have been killed and 512 others injured in okada accidents in Lagos State, according to the report

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Reports obtained from the Research Department of LASTMA also revealed that of those who died in the two years, 71 were male while 36 were female.

According to the report, between January 2011 and October 2012, 442 commercial motorcycles were involved in accidents across the state, out of which 271 occurred in 2011 while 171 occurred this year across the state.

The report also disclosed that in 2011 alone, 47 were killed and 98 others sustained serious injuries, while from January 2012 to date, 63 people have been killed while 59 others sustained serious injuries.

Reports from the Lagos State Police Command revealed that 22 out of 30 armed robbery incidents between July and September this year were carried out through the use of okada.

The report shows that of eight robbery  incidents that occurred in July, seven involved the use of okada while okada was also used in 10 out of 14 robberies in September and five out of eight robberies in August.

It disclosed that 513 fatal accidents recorded in the state in the last two years were caused by okada operators, adding that out of this number, 305 happened between January and December 2011 while 208 of the fatal accidents happened between January and June this year.

The Lagos State Government on 2 August, 2012 promulgated the Lagos Road Traffic Law part of which, among others provisions, restricted operators of commercial motorcycles to certain areas in the metropolis.

On why the state government banned okada operation from 475 roads in metropolis, Fashola said: “Several people have lost their lives, limbs, arms or become maimed for life through the reckless activities of the okada operators.”