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Motorists, residents decry conversion of roads to motor parks, loading bays

By Isaac Taiwo and Azeez Olorunlomeru
29 May 2022   |   4:04 am
For many years, most parts of Lagos have remained in the grip of incessant traffic snarl, which has led to the loss of precious man-hours to the menace and sundry unpleasant consequences.

Tricycles waiting to pick passengers on the road.

• Defend Lagos Coalition Wants Total Clampdown On Commercial Cyclists
• Govt Unrelenting In Curbing Excesses Of Motorcycle Operators

For many years, most parts of Lagos have remained in the grip of incessant traffic snarl, which has led to the loss of precious man-hours to the menace and sundry unpleasant consequences.

 
Unfortunately, efforts made by the state government to ameliorate the sufferings of the commuting public have been hampered by the activities of errant motorists, including private motorists who pay scant heed to traffic laws and regulations.
 
Besides the attitude of these errant motorists, who constantly observe traffic laws in the breach, another factor that also contributes reasonably to gridlock in the metropolis, is the attitude of commercial motorcyclists and their tricycle counterparts, who have continued to convert street/highway lanes, as well as found spaces to ad hoc parks, garages or loading bays.
 
Presently, it is commonplace to see commercial motorcyclists and tricyclists picking up passengers/disembarking them on the highway lanes, or indiscriminately parking their motorcycles and tricycles.
  
As part of efforts to curb the excesses of commercial motorcyclists in some locations across the state, the state government recently announced the banning of their operations in six local councils. The ban comes into effect on June 1.
 
In the countdown to this commencement date of the ban, the menace of these riders is still glaring in many parts of the state, including some locations, where they even take over Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes and effectively compete with BRT buses on these lanes. 
  
At Iyana Ipaja to Oshodi, and in very many other places, driving against traffic is fun for these cyclists. At Toyota, Five Star, Iyana Isolo, Ilasa, Ijesha, Mile 2, and other bus stops along the Oshodi Apapa Expressway, they do not only drive against traffic but also convert lanes to loading bays and parks. Unfortunately, even the death of some of these riders and their passengers during these highly risky expeditions has not deterred them.
 
Bola Adetilewa, an environment expert, is bothered that tricyclists that were introduced into the country to aid in intra-city commuting, now constitute a menace on major roads, including highways due to the recklessness of their drivers. 
 
According to him: “The introduction of tricycles was to serve as a boost for the transportation system in the state, especially given the shortfall experienced by the system in the past. But the problem that this introduction is now enormous. The riders’ total disregard for traffic laws is a very big problem that must be addressed, just as their indiscriminate parking on roads must be viewed seriously.  
 
A resident of the state, Chika Kalu, equally deplored the activities of the tricycle operators, stressing that their conduct was becoming inimical to the government’s efforts at ensuring free flow of traffic in parts of the state. 
 
For Kamoru Bolaji, a commercial tricyclist, with the proliferation of tricyclists across the state, the time has come for the state government to create parks or garages for operators because of their contributions to the transport sector. 
 
He stressed that it is only such steps that are capable of addressing the conversion of major roads to parks and loading bays.
  
He said: “At locations like Iyana Ipaja, Mosalashi inward Ayobo, Ikeja Under Bridge, and inward Ikeja Local Council Secretariat, the parking of tricycles, and use of parts of major roads as loading bays contribute in no small measure to the growing traffic situation in those areas.
 
“Besides slowing down traffic on affected routes, the tricyclists whose activities narrow down the service lanes of major highways, including the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway risk death as they could be accidentally run over by a speeding vehicle,” Bolaji said. 

A civil servant who resides in the Agege area of the state, Amos Aremu, blamed the sharp increase in the number of motorcycles and tricyclists on unemployment 
 
“I am not supporting lawlessness, but one of the main reasons that we have so many motorcycle riders and tricyclists on the road is because there are no jobs. Among them are graduates that have been job-hunting for years. Also among these riders are policemen, soldiers, and other law enforcement agents, who also resort to this to augment their income. When the civilians among them see these uniformed men break traffic laws brazenly, they are also emboldened to do so.” 
   
The state Commissioner for information, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, while commenting on the development, said that the state government was fully aware of the disturbing situation, and would soon address the matter squarely. 
 
“I agree with you that motorcycle riders have not been obedient enough to traffic laws, and have also been making a mess of the structure put in place by the government. Many people are complaining that they constitute a security threat in the state, and this in itself is a big challenge.

 
“We were aware of a senior police officer’s death at Ajao Estate because the police were enforcing traffic law to keep them out of the view of those coming from Murtala Muhammed International Airport into Nigeria. May the officer’s soul rest in peace.
  
“We also learnt of the recent case in Festac Town, where commercial motorcyclists were being stopped from plying major roads. They simply attacked the state government task force and the problem degenerated into a serious clash between the two parties. So, there is no doubt that they are becoming unruly, and in some instances, come together to attack innocent people. In other words, I agree with you that the government should do something about them. I think the enforcement of traffic law has been lax, probably because there are not enough people to do the job; It is the Police’s job.
  
“Since we are even receiving a lot of complaints about their unruly behaviours, we will not relent in our efforts to deal with the situation. Having said that, before the people started complaining, we had been looking at the facts and figures that are available with a view to removing motorcycle riders from some routes. We know that they now see themselves as untouchable and unstoppable, but I assure you that the Lagos State government is not going to keep on watching the city of Lagos being taken over by motorcycle riders,” Omotosho stated.
  
He concluded: “It has even got to the stage that people are now trying to defend themselves against motorcycle riders attack as it happened in the Ajao Estate.” 

In sync with the state government’s ban on the operations of commercial motorcycle operators, is a coalition of civil society organisations, the Defend Lagos Coalition Group (DLCG), which is calling for a total clampdown of the transporters.

At a world press conference, which DLCG, an amalgamation of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), faith and community-based organisations gave, in Lagos, its leader, Declan Ihekaire, said that Lagos State has got to the stage where motorcycles should not be a preferred means of transportation.

Comrade Ihekaire, who is also the National Coordinator of Activists for Good Governance (AGG), “Available records have shown that motorcycle operations have been identified as the favourite of criminals who torment people in traffic and their various communities,” he said, adding that, “the operations of undocumented motorcycles have been banned in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kano, Nassarawa, Deta and Abia states. Therefore, Lagos State should do the same.”
 
He added: “We want to urge all Lagosians, who are concerned about the lawlessness and insecurity caused by the activities of commercial motorcycle riders in Lagos State to support Governor Sanwo-Olu in enforcing a ‘total clampdown’ on motorcycle activities in the state to put an end to the menace being caused by the activities of the motorcycle riders.”
 
Ihekaire, who alleged that majority of the cyclists in the state were from the Republic of Chad, Niger Republic, and other neighbouring countries, stated that “the failure to enforce a total clampdown on motorcycles in Lagos will amount to a major threat to peace, public safety and the continued survival of law-abiding citizens of Lagos State. We implore all the law enforcement agents in the state to join forces with the government in implementing the ban without any compromise.”