Motorcyclists defy ultimatums, take over Obalende-Ikoyi axis
Despite several ultimatums by the Lagos State government to Okada riders to leave Lagos roads, the motorcyclists have refused to quit major roads in the state.
Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had, in May, said those who had taken up Okada riding for lack of jobs should take opportunities in agriculture, wealth creation, poverty alleviation and other government programmes.
Sanwo-Olu added that the strings of lawlessness witnessed in confrontation between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies required urgent actions, including prohibition.
But the number of Okada riders on Lagos roads, despite arrests, has increased. The riders have increased in number around Obalende and have taken over the Obalende-Ikoyi link bridge, causing traffic jam as drivers struggle to avoid hitting them.
Speaking on the ban, a commercial bus driver, Joel Aharanka, said while Okada remains a threat, banning them would not be the solution.
“Unemployment is a major factor why people ride bikes commercially. Some Okada riders are graduates. I won’t be a commercial driver if we have a good government in Nigeria because there are other things I can do to earn a living.
“Dispatch riders are also many in Lagos. You see someone who does not know how to ride but he picks up the job, and accidents involving dispatch riders are now common. We see them involved in accidents more than any other group.”
On his part, a legal practitioner, Jackson Olagbaju, who spoke with The Guardian in Obalende, said: “Let’s call a spade, a spade. The Lagos State government is not ready about getting Okada off the roads. If the government wants to prohibit the use of bikes in Lagos, there should be an alternative; an alternative that is going to bring comfort.”
He added: “Truth be told. Okada has adverse effect, but the usage of Okada cannot be over-emphasised in a state like Lagos. If you are moving from Iyana-Ipaja to Ikeja, then you should be ready to be held in traffic jam. Whereas, a journey from Iyana-Ipaja to Ikeja is between five and 10 minutes, but when moving in the morning, you will be held in traffic. That’s when Okada comes in, So, if the government wants to ban Okada, it must put things in place to make life easier for citizens.”
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