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Confusion as motorcyclists, tri-cyclists turn Apapa-Oshodi highway to garages

By Gbenga Salau
10 October 2021   |   3:08 am
Nine years after the Lagos State Road Traffic Law was signed, the state government has not been able to put an end to the reckless activities of riders of commercial motorcycles

Cluster of motorcyclists waiting to pick passengers at Mile 2<br />

Nine years after the Lagos State Road Traffic Law was signed, the state government has not been able to put an end to the reckless activities of riders of commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada plying major roads and highways within the state. This is despite Section 3 of the law banning commercial motorcycles from plying major roads and expressways, which are referred to as restricted routes.

The usual practice is for the state government to keep reiterating that commercial motorcyclists and tri-cyclists are barred from major roads and highways, whenever there is public outcry or a fracas between okada riders and residents or enforcement officers.

Speaking on the ban and unruly acts of commercial motorcyclists recently, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, maintained that the ban would not be reversed for safety and security reasons, explaining that as a responsible government, his administration would not fold its arms and allow security breach in the state.

He said: “We will sustain the ban on okadas and tricycles, mainly because of security and safety reasons. We will continue to ensure the safety of our people on all fronts. There have been reports of serious security breaches and safety concerns in areas where these operators ply. We had to respond to these concerns because of the life and safety matter to this government.

“The restriction of motorcycles and tricycles in the six local councils and nine local council development areas created a mobility gap, which required to be filled urgently. Thus, the First and Last Mile (FLM) scheme became imperative within the areas where commercial motorcycles and tricycles had been restricted.”

Just like past governments failed to bring an end to the uncontrollable actions of commercial motorcyclists, the Sanwo-Olu has achieved little or nothing in curbing them.

Apapa-Oshodi Expressway is one of the major highways that commercial motorcycles are barred from. In spite of this ban and the government reiterating the ban at intervals, however, Okada riders and tri-cyclists called Marwa drivers still daily ply the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, in defiance of the law and state government’s repeated orders.

Indeed, the aggression with which these drivers operate on the road leaves much to be desired. They are becoming more daring by the day, as they now openly carry out their business on the fast lane of the Expressway. This often results in obstruction of other road users and the attendant consequence of slow traffic along these corridors.

This development is more pronounced at Mile 2 Oke, Second Rainbow, Cele, Ilasa, Iyana-Isolo, Five Star and Toyota bus stops along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. At these spots, commercial motorcyclists and tri-cyclists not only ride on the expressway, but they also drive against traffic and have succeeded in converting these bus stops to garages, where they park not only for passengers to alight, but also to pick commuters. Okada riders and Marwa drivers often convert two of three lanes on the major expressway to garages. Commercial bus drivers who have turned the third lane to spot for passengers to alight or join the bus are also not helping matters, as they often compound the situation. This is usually the scenario at Mile 2 Oke, Second Rainbow, Cele, Iyana-Isolo and Toyota bus stops during peak periods.

A resident, Jide Ajose, said the act is not only lawless, but it also endangers residents’ lives, as drivers that are not conversant with the scenarios at these bus stops could likely do something that could be disastrous and detrimental to commuters and other road users.

“So, the state government needs to act fast to put an end to it,” he said.

The Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Transportation, Oluwatoyin Fayinka, said the state government has not lost the battle against enforcing the ban on motorcycles and tricycles plying restricted routes, maintaining that the law prohibiting their activities is still in force and the Police are on it, as there should be no excuse for not enforcing the law.

He said: “You will recollect that about two weeks ago, in the process of enforcing the law banning commercial motorcycles from restricted routes in the state, a policeman was killed by a mob at Ajao Estate. If the Police were not enforcing, the incident would not have happened, but we are enforcing and will continue to do so. The media should also observe and objectively provide feedback to awaken us. Very soon, all this will be a thing of the past.”