The recent ban by the Lagos State Government on motorbikes (Okada) and tricycle (Keke NAPEP, Maruwa) for commercial transportation has generated a lot of controversies since it took effect on February 1, 2020.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor, had announced restriction of motorbikes from operating in six local government areas, nine local council development areas, 10 major highways and 41 bridges across the state.
Road users including school children were seen trekking long distances to their various destinations on Monday morning and same thing happened at the close of work as people were stranded on the road.
In Ikeja and its environs, commuters were seen walking as far as from under-bridge Ikeja to GRA and other places where they usually use tricycles as a means of transportation.
When newsmen visited Ikeja under-bridge, there was no single tricycle or motorbike. Two police vehicles were stationed at the strategic spots.
Also, it was also a pathetic story at Okada Park, Pen Cinema, on Monday morning as only few cyclists, who decided to take the risk, were seen ready to serve the crowd heading to their places of work. However, the service came at a higher cost.
A trip to Ogba used to cost N100 with the cyclists usually carrying two passengers; but on Monday morning, it was N200 per passenger and N400 for two passengers.
A trip from Ojodu Berger to Agege that was N100 had shot up to N150. It was the same along the Ojota-Ogba route as passengers were made to part with N150 for yellow buses and N200 for cars plying the routes.
However, the situation was different at the Ojota Ikorodu garage as residents of Ikorodu and its environs that have become habitual users of Okada were stranded.
Many who constrained to wait for Tata buses and BRT grumbled, saying the government had denied them the use of the fast means of travelling along the busy Mile 12-Ikorodu expressway.
Consequently, the BRT bus stops were filled to capacity as intending passengers remained on the queue for the blue buses.
However, private car owners that cashed in on the ban on Okada made brisk business as passengers rushed to secure a seat in the few cars that were available.
One of the riders, who volunteered information to newsmen, said much as there was no hike in the price of fuel, they decided to increase the fare as a form of economy of scale, reminding the passengers the risk they decided to take in order to serve.
Also speaking, Bravo Ikemefuna, a resident of Agric area of Ikorodu lamented that being constrained to use bus instead of ‘fast Okada’ delayed his early resumption where he worked on the island.
Okada riders operating inside Ikosi complained of harassment by police, saying that they were arrested inside the streets not listed on the forbidden roads.
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Jimi Agbaje, on Monday also said the outright ban on okada and tricycles in some parts of the state is not the solution to accidents and insecurity which is the primary concern of the state government.
Speaking in a chat with newsmen, Agbaje who was the Lagos State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 and 2019 general elections said the ban which took effect from February 1 has kept thousands of okada and tricycle riders out of jobs.
He said this will have a ripple effect on the economy as those associated with them such as the vulcanizers, spare parts sellers, food sellers and others will also be negatively affected.
While noting the hardships being experienced by some Lagosians as a result of the ban, Agbaje advised Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to regulate the activities of the operators instead of the outright ban, adding that jobless okada and tricycle riders might resort to crimes which would not augur well for the security of the state.
“I think what we need to do is to regulate them. You have people that have put together a set up, all you need do is to regulate them.
“Those operators have regulated themselves in the sense that they have bought motorcyles that are within the laws of Lagos State by the capacity of their motorcycles, so by law they are allowed to move on any route,” he said.
In its reaction, Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) described as baseless, unfounded and thoughtless the ultimatum given to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu by the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to reverse the partial ban.
Its Publicity Secretary, Seye Oladejo, said in a statement that PDP leaders were fond of talking before thinking, adding that their criticism of the ban was in bad faith.
“While it is within their right to protest, the resort to self-help or violence should also be addressed within the confines of the law.”
Mr. Adeola Soetan, the National Coordinator, Democracy Vanguard, added that most policies of government in Nigeria are never determined by any sustained long term vision but by exigencies of the moment, greed and corruption which is the major reason for policy somersault, suddenness and ambush of the citizens by government.
“A sincere governorship candidate or a party desirous of people’s confidence would have openly and boldly campaigned that he would ban okada on some roads and painstakingly explained the reasons, time frame, alternatives, amelioration plans to the people.
“They suppose to always campaign vigorously on those issues in their master-plan, if any, for the electorate to buy into such long term vision, be ready to defend it and vote for them or not on that basis as Trump did in the U.S. and Awolowo did while campaigning,” he added.
Meanwhile, to cushion the effect of the ban on commuters, the Lagos State government has deployed 65 buses to ply the roads on daily basis.
Managing Director, Lagos Bus Services Limited, Idowu Oguntona, disclosed this to journalists in Lagos, on Monday.
Idowu said the deployment of the 65 buses was “to cushion the current pressure that may be experienced on Lagos roads.”