Police clampdown on errant motorcycle riders begins today
Today is the D-Day. The Lagos State police command and the task force on environmental sanitation will from today switch gear and activate its show of force in a clampdown on errant commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada riders.
The clampdown, which was earlier announced on June 3, is targeted at those without plate numbers, those plying the 465 restricted routes and bridges, those who are not under any approved union and those without their union apron and identification.
This decision was taken by the Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, after some commercial motorcyclists razed a police patrol vehicle at the Ibeshe area of Ikorodu over the death of their colleague.
The police, who had earlier arrest 79 persons in connection with the arson, engaged leaders of the different unions guiding the riders.
At the meeting where this decision was taken were different unions like Motorcycle Operators Association of Lagos State (MOALS), Nagari Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association (NAMORA) and Okada Riders Welfare Association (ORWA).
However, this clampdown is not new to the operators, especially since the former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, in August 2, 2012, signed the Lagos Road Traffic Bill into law.
The law prohibits operations of commercial motorcyclists on 475 out of the 9,100 roads in the state. It also barred them from all bridges.
Fashola, while signing the bill into law, said it was to check the rising cases of accidents, especially the ones caused by the commercial motorcyclists. He also said the law would help to restore order on the roads.
Six years on, there has been poor implementation of this law, which is not unconnected to the high population density and unending gridlocks on major roads faced by Lagosians daily. It had to take the Ibeshe incident for the police to be woken out of its slumber to enforce the laws.
Nearly all the regulations guiding the operations of motorcyclists have been flouted by the riders; for example, riding with a valid rider’s license, wearing crash helmets, not carrying more than a passenger at a time, and not carrying pregnant women, school children and women with babies strapped on their backs.
The situation is worse in some areas where okada riders are seen riding dangerously against traffic in the bid to evade arrest by policemen.
This are experienced daily on the Mile Two to Iyana Iba/Badagry route, Jakande Gate to Isolo/Ladipo,Mushin route, Ikotun to Cele Express, Iyana Ipaja to Ikeja Along/Oshodi, and Ojuelegba to CMS/Obalende.
While some have described the clampdown as a good step in the right direction, others have described it as a knee-jerk reaction aimed at further extorting the operators.
An okada rider, who simply identified himself as John, said the urge to survive and take care of his family is the reason he plies the trade in spite of the risks involved.
The father of four said he was willing to comply with the law because his family will die of hunger if the police seize his bike.
Efforts to reach leaders of the Motorcycle Operators Association of Lagos State (MOALS) were abortive, but a source revealed that there have been meetings with the riders to update them on the development, and have commenced the issuance of aprons for identification.