Nigeria: Lagos' Ban On Okada, Keke Napep, Spot-On!

Okada riders (file photo).
2 February 2020

For a safer and more environment-friendly Lagos, the recent ban on commercial motorcycles and tricycles was the way to go.

It was not surprising that the ban recently placed on commercial motorcycles and tricycles in Lagos State by the government was going to generate intense public interest and a seemingly endless debate. In fact, it was going to be a debate between the rich and the poor of the society and it is the more reason the debate is a sensitive matter.

Announcing the restriction and ban of commercial motorcycles (Okada) and tricycles (Keke) in six local government areas of the state with effect from yesterday, February 1, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, made this known in Ikeja, while addressing newsmen after the State Security Council meeting.

According to him, "The extant Transport Sector Reform Law 2018 bans the operation of Motorcycles (Okada) and Tricycles (Keke) in some local government areas and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).

"They include Apapa LGA and Apapa Iganmu LCDA, Lagos Mainland LG and Yaba LCDA, Surulere LGA, Itire-Ikate and Coker-Aguda LCDAs, Ikeja LGA, Onigbongbo and Ojodu LCDAs, Eti-Osa LGA, Ikoyi-Obalende and Iru/Victoria Island LCDAs, then Lagos Island LGA and Lagos Island East LCDA. The full enforcement begins on February 1, 2020," the commissioner said.

He explained that the rate of crimes aided by motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (keke) keeps rising, even as they are used as means of getting away by criminals.

"This is the first stage of the state government's plan to sanitise our roads and protect Lagosians from the negative effects of these illegal modes of transportation. The law is very clear. Motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (keke) are banned on all highways, bridges and listed roads.

"Major highways include Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Oworonshoki-Oshodi Expressway, Lagos-Ikorodu Expressway and Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.

"The highways also include Eti-Osa/Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Funsho Williams Avenue, Agege Motor Road and Eti-Osa Lekki Coastal Road," he said.

However, the restricted bridges are Iyana-Ipaja bridge, Agege, Dopemu bridge Agege, Airport/Ikeja bridge, Agege Motor road/Oshodi Loop, Oshodi, Mushin/Isolo Link bridge, Dorman Long bridge.

Others are Ojuelegba bridge, National Stadium flyover, Apapa-Iganmu bridge, Apapa-Ijora link bridge, Liverpool bridge, Apapa, Mile 2 bridge-loop, Amuwo-Odofin, Okota (cele)/Ijesha Link bridge, Apakun/Apapa-Oshodi bridge network, Ikorodu Road/Anthony Clover leaf bridge and Trade Fair flyover.

There are also Festac/Amuwo-Odofin link bridge, 2 Flyover Bridges along Alhaji Masha Road, Ojota Clover leaf bridge, Ogudu bridge, 3rd Mainland Bridge, Maryland flyover, Ikeja General Hospital flyover, Kodesoh bridge, Oba Akran, Ikeja, Opebi link bridge, Sheraton-Opebi bridge, Jibowu/Yaba flyover, Carter Bridge, Lagos and Bariga-Ifako bridge.

Included in this category were Apapa-Oshodi Expressway/Alapere bridge, Bariga/Oworonsoki bridge, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway/Gbagada U-Turn, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, 3rd Mainland/Oworonsoki bridge, Eko Bridge, Apongbon flyover, Cowry bridge (Officers Mess), Mcwen bridge (Bonny Camp), Marina/Ikoyi bridge and Ikoyi/Obalende bridge.

He warned that the law enforcement agents had been directed that with effect from February 1, 2020, that there would be zero tolerance for motorcycles and tricycles in (on) the listed local governments, highways and bridges.

It is not totally misplaced, the position of those uncomfortable with the ban, because of the relief that the use of a motorcycle or tricycle could bring the way of anyone in the thick of weakening traffic that could take hours to ease.

The fact that a typical motorcycle could meander through places and a car or bus could not dare on a normal day is also part of the reasons the ban is not sitting well with some people.

None of these, however, compares to the security and safety risks associated with the use of Okada as they are called, which brings to the table of this debate, the matter of preference and importance in collective interest.

Lately, many strange Okada riders have been noticed to come into Lagos in large numbers and in the middle of the night, accentuating the fears that foreigners might have been flooding the state under the guise of seeking greener pastures and using Okada as their means of survival.

From armed robbers to kidnappers, terrorists, ritual killers and bandits, they all find Okada as their most convenient means of transportation, thus compounding and compromising the security of the state.

Lagos weaned itself of its primitiveness many years ago and in striving towards the goals of a mega city especially, in the areas of transportation, the resort to Okada is definitely not the way to go.

As a model state in all indicators possible, the advent of motorcycles and tricycles was no less a dent on the upscale image of the status and the many promises it boasts amongst other states of the federation.

Therefore, while the argument about engaging the operators of Okada and Keke NAPEP cannot be dismissed outright and which the authorities should consider, albeit on the grounds of magnanimity, the security and safety of Lagos cannot be compromised on whatever grounds. This is why the ban is both timely and instructive.

There's no one, who had been a victim of the misuse of Okada, whether by way of accident, robbery or rituals, would wish that the menace posed by it be allowed for whatever reasons. Thus, the idea to sanitise Lagos in terms of security and keep its people safe is selfless, well thought-out and instructive at this time.

With increasing insecurity all over Nigeria and the tendency for criminals to spread under the current chase and domination, no government at whatever level needs to be told of the need to brace up and close up every gap that could compromise security.

This is why everyone, who truly means well for Lagos and of course, desires a safe and secure environment must support the latest effort of the government in ensuring sanity and protecting the vast majority of the people. It is better to walk a safe 2-kilometre than travel a dangerous 10 minutes, using the motorcycle or tricycle.

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