Following several complaints over the growing menace and nuisance constituted by commercial motorcycles, popularly known as ‘Okada’, Lagos State Governor, Babjide Sanwo-Olu, has imposed a fresh ban on the operations in some parts of the metropolis to curtail the unruly activities of the riders.
Sanwo-Olu had, on May 10, 2021, reviewed the 2012 Lagos Traffic Law guiding the Okada operations, after his predecessors, Babatunde Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode’s administrations, had banned their activities.
Fashola had signed the Lagos Road Traffic Law 2012, which restricts Okada operations in at least 492 of the 9,200 roads across the metropolis, in an effort to reduce the menace of their operations.
The latest ban, however, came in the wake of series of concerns raised by a traditional ruler in Lekki, Oniru of Iruland, Oba Omogbolahan Lawal, Abisogun II, and residents, on the urgent need to avert security breach in the area and, by extension, the state.
It will be recalled that a 37-year-old sound Engineer, Sunday-David Umoh, was lynched and burnt by irate Okada riders at Admiralty Way in Lekki. He was a member of Legacy 360 Band before he met his untimely death on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
In a letter dated May 18, 2022, to residents, Oniru, who is a retired police chief, called for urgent measures to nip the looming breakdown of law and order in the state, based on intelligence report.
The letter, titled: ‘Urgent Security Alert’, and made available to the state government, read in part: “Intelligence report reaching us is that following the raid on Okada riders and seizure of their bikes in Lekki Phase 1, the riders believed the action was instigated by Lekki residents, who are determined to take away their source of livelihood. To this end, there are plans to invade inner streets to cause havoc in Lekki, anytime from now.
In his proactive measures, the Oniru advised that all access points within the Estate be secured and all security guards should be on red alert. This is an emergency measure, not panic.
”This intelligence is from our security services provider. So, we advise all residents to be extremely cautious and to collaborate with security guards at the gates.”
In a swift reaction to the development, Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, at an emergency meeting with Commissioner of Police, Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers, DPOs, at the State House, Alausa, Ikeja, announced a total ban on Okada on all highways across six LGAs, and nine, LCDAs, of the State.
Effective from June 1, 2022, the Governor, directed security operatives to enforce the proscription order across the listed councils. The affected councils are Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Surulere, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland and Apapa, extending to 9 LCDAs.
The governor said the decision is in line with the State’s Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 to immediately address the chaos and menace created by operations of Okada in the listed areas.
Sanwo-Olu gave the marching order to the police to enforce the ban without compromise, warning that the state government would not condone any security formation that relaxes the new ban in its jurisdiction.
According to him: “After critical review of our restriction on Okada activities in the first six LGAs where we restricted them on February 1, 2020, we have seen that the menace has not abated. We are now directing a total ban on Okada activities across the highways and bridges within these affected areas, effective from June 1, 2022.
“This is a phased ban we are embarking on this period, and we expect that within the short while when this ban will be in enforced, Okada riders in other places where their activities are yet to be banned can find something else to do.
“We have given the notice now and we expect all commercial motorcycles plying the routes in the listed councils and areas to vacate the highways before enforcement begins. The enforcement will be total.”
Sanwo-Olu urged residents to stop patronising Okada riders on highways but embrace the alternative transport schemes already provided by the government to plan their journey which is Last Mile Buses, medium-capacity and high-capacity buses in the affected areas for convenience of commuters.
The governor insisted that Okada operations on the highways remained unsafe and would no longer be tolerated.
“Before the end of the year, we are also bringing the rail along these corridors with their terminals. We have provided jetties as well to provide alternatives.
“We will not sit back and watch criminally-minded people use that mode of transportation (motorcycles) to perpetrate crimes and criminality in Lagos. Lives are being lost on a daily basis, preventable accidents are happening every day and the riders are not respecting any of our traffic laws. The situation has led to a complete breakdown of law and order. This ban has come to stay and we will not tolerate any weakness in enforcement,” Sanwo-Olu lamented.
We’re studying the situation —Okada union leaders
Reacting to the ban, some Okada union leaders in the state declined comment, saying it was too early to make any remark.
Kazeem Hassan, Chairman of the Motorcycle Operators Association of Lagos State, MOALS, when contacted, rebuffed our correspondent’s question.
Hassan, who spoke in Yoruba Language and interpreted, said, “I am very busy right now and I am not ready to comment on the issue.”
Similarly, the MOALS Chairman, Ikorodu Branch, Kayode Jimoh-Pashoku, popularly, called Jendor, when contacted said he was attending to some issues and would make revert but failed to do so as of press time, but a source among the riders said the various associations of motorcycle operators in the state would work out modalities towards the ban.
Save us from menace of Okada riders, Lekki residents cry out
Earlier, following the lynching of Sound Engineer, LERA had cried out over the activities of commercial motorcyclists in the area, saying: “This is causing more harm than good to residents.”
Chairman of LERA, Yomi Idowu, called on Lagos State governor to save the community from the menace by sustaining the ongoing clamp-down on Okoda operators in the area.
Idowu, stated this after he visited the Maroko Police Station, following the death of Umoh.
In a chat with Vanguard, he alleged that the activities of the riders have been causing sleepless nights in the area just as he appealed to people to avoid spreading of fake news in connection with the matter.
‘’After my visitation to Maroko Police Station, I got the clearer picture of what transpired on that fateful Thursday. We are appealing to the Lagos State Government to rescue us from the menace of Okada riders in Lekki axis in general because they have taken over the axis to the extent that they ride against traffic and avoid the use of number plates.
“It is unfortunate that Okada riders are banned from Kano and Kaduna States while they ride with impunity in Lagos despite the ban by the government.”