BY ISAAC ORIEKA
With the recent pronouncement by the Lagos state Governor, Baba Jide Sanwo-Olu, restricting and banning Okada, motorcycles and tricycles, Keke Napep from major highways in six local government area of the state has attracted limitless capacity of reactions and condemnations from concerned stakeholders and socio economic analysts.
The decision has ramped up pains and punishment for thousands of men, women and children through this chain of daily survival. The ban which started from February 1,2020, affected places like Apapa, Lagos mainland, surulere, Etti Osa, Lagos lsland and lkeja.
The Lagos state Commissioner for transport cited high rate of road accidents and insecurity in the metropolis which was why the law was enforced. The directive also affected ride hailing platforms such as Max, ORide, Gokada, and Opay firms. This singular move has accounted to massive job losses, high crime rate, and threat to livelihood with no hope of a probable reversal in the future.
Sanwo-Olu, doubtlessly should know that to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven. Commuters, workers now walk long distances as commercial vehicles are not enough to take them to their various destinations. Fares in the affected areas have hit roof top as well as goods and services
As a matter of fact, the law was unscripted, ill advised with no time frame as proper consultations and agreements were not reached before the law was pushed out so that the riders would be prepared for the eventual consequences awaiting them and their future. ln full compliance, the law began to take it’s toll aggressively on the riders, touts, the unions as the police were negatively enforcing it to their advantage. This attitude snow balled to violent clashes involving the police and touts in ljora and some affected areas leading to the destruction of property and losses of lives.
For many road users okada services have been very useful considering Lagos traffic snarls daily. It has aided movement into the inner city roads where commercial buses could not ply due to inaccessibility and congestion of so many streets depicting a far worse situation than the crammed highways. The ban is a war on commuters, traders, workers, mechanics and other economic activities benefiting from the riders direct services. Hoteliers, sex workers, liquor sellers, food vendors have lamented poor patronage and losses.
Many of the riders from the north have left Lagos for their home states to avoid being molested resulting in a probable seizure and forfeiture of their bikes to the state government. Some of them are even echoing ethnic cleansing why the state is putting a spirited defence of insecurity, high accident rates wispy washy excuses which the governor claims is to sanitize the state and make it one of the best Mega cities in the world.
A peep into the traffic situation shows there has not been any decline in the stress points across the state, as the traffic menace is yet to abate on major roads despite the ban. This is due to the high influx of vehicles and motorists navigating towards major roads where the lanes have been taken over by
freight trucks and oil tankers coupled with the bad portions of the roads and market activities.
From available reports, the state government is not ready to shift it’s goal post on the ban any sooner to give respite to the populace. To him, Sanwo-Olu, the decision is final for now. Metro night life, night clubbing, have been slowed down drastically. Not also spared are okada, keke parts dealers decrying the ban on their businesses. Freight forwards, importers, exporters who conduct their business around the Apapa corridor said movement in out of the port is horrible, and loss of man hours while trying to ports as the leading to ports have not been fixed. Then why restrictions or ban? They reacted.
Despite several appeals and suggestions from all quarters advising that what the government need to do is regulations and not outright prohibition. It will be threats to livelihood and unmanageable crime rate in the state. The emergency palliative never made provisions for jobs and rehabilitation yet the government has deprived the riders of their means of survival which is barely enough. The federal and state government have been urged to repair the roads in Lagos, else we will remain stand still.
No law is constant forever, in all climes the law banning okada should be revisited and made flexible for citizenry Also, the threat being muted to ban street trading is uncalled for. The (agberos),touts are enjoying a field day why not issue an order to ban them?
Think of this! the riders were used to campaign for you Sanwo-Olu, before becoming the state governor, therefore, be people and policy friendly. The riders do not Yany pose any problems to your governance get it right. You alone can not stay in Lagos, people toiled for a better Lagos, before you came from America to be a Governor. So, work and not enforcing draconian laws which will squeeze all our efforts to zero living.
In a bid to make governance work for the people, government must apply huge resources to bring security to Lagos and ensure that the crime statistics is down and the lowest in Nigeria and not just the commercial nerve center in Africa. A lot needs to be done as the state have lost the opportunity to provide bare necessities to its citizens. Therefore, restricting okada is not a major issue, because many citizens question routinely why do we have a
sittin governor who is yet to realize he has not performed to the capacity expected from his promises.
“ln the real world, as lived and experienced by real people, the demand for human rights and dignity, the longing for liberty and justice and opportunity, the hatred of oppression and corruption and cruelty is a reality”. So, let’s strive to be fair to one another.