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‘Regulate us, don’t kill our means of survival’

By  Benjamin Alade  and Kehinde Olatunji
01 February 2020   |   4:30 am
In protest against today’s take-off of the ban on the operations of commercial motorcycles on some major Lagos roads and bridges by the Lagos State Government, riders of e-hailing motorcycles yesterday took to the streets to express their grievances.

OPay, Max Okada and Gokada riders protesting against the restriction/ban of their operations on major roads and bridges with effect from today by the Lagos State Government… yesterday<br />PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

• Professional Okada Operators Urge Lagos Govt To Suspend Today’s Restriction Policy
• Riders Relocate To Other Areas, States

In protest against today’s take-off of the ban on the operations of commercial motorcycles on some major Lagos roads and bridges by the Lagos State Government, riders of e-hailing motorcycles yesterday took to the streets to express their grievances.

They expressed their concerns over the recent decision of the state government to restrict their movement/operations in some local government areas, bridges and highways in the state.The operators, majorly those of Gokada and Max.ng, carried various placards with inscriptions, such as “Save our jobs, Regulate us; not kill us;” Na all of us get Lagos, no be only the rich; “Our jobs matter;” “Mega city no dey pay bills;” “If you no use helmet, no ride;” “Ban no be solution; We need more jobs, not less”, ”I am trained, certified and tracked always” and “Over two million trips, zero fatality,” among others.

They staged a peaceful protest from Oregun Road to the government secretariat in Alausa, Ikeja, lamenting that the business is their only means of survival, asking for regulation of their operations instead of ban.

The protesters, who are mostly graduates from Nigerian universities and polytechnics, and operators from Gokada, Max Okada and 1st Ride, described the government’s policy as an attempt to rob them of their daily bread.

Meanwhile, as the restriction takes effect from today, many of the conventional okada riders were seen moving into the interior, just as others relocated to other states where their operations are not restricted or banned.In many cities in the north, operations have been outlawed or restricted, as a result of which many of the riders migrated to the south in trucks and trailers.

At the Ogere tollgate area in Ogun State, several motorcycle owners were seen bargaining transport fares to take their motorcycles back to the north, even as some owners made moves to dispose of theirs.A representative of Max Okada, a 400-level Psychology undergraduate of the University of Ibadan (UI), Akanmu Afeez, said he is sponsoring his education from the proceeds of the business. He said: “We are here for a peaceful protest on the new policy by the government to restrict Okada from certain areas. We are different from the regular Okada riders; we are corporate and professional riders. We were trained and certified for this business.

“We urge the government to regulate and not totally ban us. The government can give us rules and regulations in the conduct of our businesses. Such regulations can include use of helmet, speed limit and no phones calls while driving. They can even monitor us if we violate any of these rules.

“We help ease mobility of Lagosians. There is no office work I will be doing that I will be taking excuses to study at school anytime I have lectures. With this business, I can take time out to study and work anytime that is convenient for me.”Also, Egbunna Sandra, an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) holder and female operator with Gokada, urged the Lagos State government to be lenient with the operators, saying: “I’m a professional Gokada operator. I just finished my OND and this is the period for my Industrial Training (IT).

“It was the proceeds I get from this business that I use to sponsor myself through school, as I don’t have the mind and body for prostitution.

“If this ban should hold tomorrow (today), what will I be doing? I’m from Yaba College of Technology and I intend to further my education by going for my Higher National Diploma (HND). “If the government proceeds with the ban, how will I sponsor my HND programme? The government should regulate and not ban.”Akinkuotu Oluwaseun, a representative of Gokada, said: “I have been working with this company for a while and I can boldly say that we are well trained.

“Before I could join this company, I passed through series of training. For the past three years, we have never recorded any death or casualty. Government should consider us. “I’m a graduate from Tai Solarin University of Education in Ogun State. This is what I’m doing that gives me joy and peace of mind. We have a midget that monitors us at Gokada to maintain law and order on the road. Taylor Samuel from Gokada also said: “I graduated from The Polytechnic, Ibadan and studied Business Administration. I have a family that I cater for.

“We appeal to the government to regulate and not ban. We are not the only people that will be affected with this new policy, even the commuters will also be affected and a lot of people will suffer. “Our helmets come with Bluetooth, so we cannot be easily distracted when we are riding. Besides, the economy of the country is bad that there is no job and there are bills to pay.

“While we wait for something better to do, we make do with what we have legitimately to get what we want.”Addressing the protesters, Bisi Yusuff, representing Alimosho Constituency 1 in the State House of Assembly, who spoke on behalf of the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, commended the protesters for their peaceful demonstration, urging them to abide by the new restriction, pending when the state government would decide on their request.

“Protest is an ingredient of democracy; we commend you for peaceful demonstration. We will go through your petition.“However, we urge you to keep cool and keep to the law until we call you back. Government has made pronouncement on the issue. Don’t allow anybody to hijack the protest, because you will be held responsible for it.

“Very soon, we will call you. Maintain the law. It is when government sees your conduct that they will know what to do,” he said. Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, announced this week that the government would enforce the restriction/ban from today, explaining that the decision was taken after a robust assessment of the debate on the rate of accidents in Lagos.He said security and safety of the lives of the residents were paramount, warning that all offenders and violators would be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the state.