Lagos — Hundreds of commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada riders, in the early hours of yesterday, barricaded the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway to protest against the Lagos State Government's new Road Traffic Law, part of which restricts their operations on major roads across the state.
The protesting Okada riders were said to have by 8 a.m,stormed the Abule-Egba area, on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, one of the restricted routes for Okada riders. This resulted in a gridlock as they disrupted free flow of traffic.
Vanguard gathered that the Okada riders were protesting the ban on their operations along the axis as well as the harassment of their members by security agencies.
It took the intervention of the state security outfit, Rapid Response Squad, RRS, the police, Federal Road Safety Corps and men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, to restore normalcy on the road.
One of the protesters, Mr. Aliu Abubaker, who spoke to Vanguard, noted that if government should carry out the order it would send them into serious hunger as many of them would be deprived of their means of livelihood.
"Where do they want us to go? I have been operating along this route for the past two years. I have no other job, this is what I use in feeding my family.
"The government should have a rethink, at least they can give us some period of grace to operate and not total ban."
An official of the state Ministry of Transportation, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed the protest, saying the situation was immediately put under check with no arrest made as the protesting Okada riders retreated accordingly.
Meantime, the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, yesterday, disclosed that the government has added 15,000 road signs in addition to the existing 10,000.
Opeifa said the massive installation of the signs would enable road-users to be conversant with the signs and their significance, adding that it would also assist road-users to know the restricted routes for motorcycles and tricycles, designated bus-stops, among others.
He implored the residents to inform the government through GSM number 08174616936 on locations where they felt that traffic signs are needed.
He, however, warned "recalcitrant" Okada riders and tricycles also known as "Keke NAPEP or Marwa" in their own interest, to desist from plying the restricted 475 routes as anyone found violating the law would be appropriately sanctioned.