24 October 2012

Nigeria: Ban On Okada - Fashola Challenges Supporters of Unregulated Okada Operation

Photo: Bunmi Azeez/Vanguard
Okada riders.

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) , Tuesday, challenged those supporting the unregulated operation of commercial motorcyclists, popularly called okada to take a trip to the various hospitals and medical emergency centres to see the havoc wreaked by their activities.

Governor Fashola who spoke on the topic "Freedom from Fear" in relation to Law and Order in Lagos State said they should visit the hospitals and emergency wards and see those who have lost limbs, arms, those who have lost children or those who have become orphans by the recklessness of the okada riders.

Noting that a lot depended on the citizenry in ensuring an orderly society, the Governor said everyone must build a consensus that the idea behind the new traffic law was to ensure the protection of life and assets of every resident of Lagos and their businesses.

Tracing the various well organized public transport systems that had existed in the past like the L.M.T.S and L.S.T.C, he said it should agitate the minds of citizens and members of the Club how the State arrived at its present state in terms of the unbridled operation of commercial motorcyclists.

Cross session of members of the Metropolitan Club applauding the Governor after his interactive session with them on the theme of Law and Order at the Kofo Abayomi Street, Club House, Victoria Island, on Tuesday, October 23, 2012. INSET: Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN addressing the members.

According to the Governor, in less than two decades, the okadas have gained so much prominence that it has become a phenomenon which should not have been allowed in the first place, stressing that the elites also contributed as many encouraged their staff and employees to start taking okadas to run errands quickly.

"The only way to stop the business from flourishing is by not patronizing them. It is a business that if the income from it dwindles, the business proposition of those in it will change", he said.

Conducting an overview of various facets of life in the State, Governor Fashola explained that he had taken it upon himself to lead by example by shunning the use of siren to escape from the traffic, adding that as a Governor he has always taken it upon himself to fight against any attempt by Very Important Personalities to close roads and the people must be ready to fight against behaviours and conducts that are hazardous to healthy and secure existence.

The Governor who drew a comparative analysis of what happens in distant locations said the State Government established the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to allow people dispose their refuse properly but that the people prefer to still patronize cart pushers who would dump the refuse in a canal by the corner thus causing flooding.

"Some people are saying that they will not obey the law that protects the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) dedicated lane because they say it is draconian for the government to insist on its enforcement".

"This is a law made by the State House of Assembly. A law that I swore on oath to defend and that is my duty. I make no apologies for doing it and I will continue to do it. If we continue like this, we are on the road to Bangkok in Thailand", the Governor stated.

The Governor said there should be concerted effort by everyone to ensure that Nigeria does not reach the notorious status of Bangkok in terms of traffic because Bangkok is a city that loses about one million dollars every year to traffic congestion and where the training of the average traffic police officer includes the delivery of babies from pregnant women who are trapped in traffic.

Urging business executives and corporate leaders to rethink the types of ventures being supported, the Governor said the tricycles known as Keke Marwa represents the sign of India's age of poverty which the country is striving hard to move away from as it is now busy manufacturing TATA buses and wondered why that is what Nigerians are now embracing wholeheartedly.

He added that the same applies to motorcycles which originated from China, saying currently the Chinese are making fast trains for their usage while Nigerians are helping their economy by patronizing their okadas.

Noting that those who break the law with impunity are often more than not, aliens with no respect for rules and regulation, Governor Fashola revealed that in the last 24 hours, over 100 people from Niger Republic have been escorted out of the State, stressing that there is no going back on the enforcement of the State Traffic Law.

The Governor while speaking on the topic of 'Freedom From Fear' explained that the presence or absence of law and order in any society is what determines whether the people will live in fear or without it.

He added that while the Nigerian Constitution guarantees many rights, there is no right classified as right to be free from fear in the Constitution because freedom from fear seems to have been the forgotten freedom.

He advocated that the responsibility to give the freedom that secures all freedom lies with every individual who must make it a point of duty to ensure that they secure themselves against fear.

Join the debate:

Should okada be banned on Lagos roads? If yes, what other alternatives would cushion the effect created by the ban.

If no, how can their operations be improved on- in terms of regulations, dedicated routes and safety?

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