Months after Lagos State government announced a ban on motorcycle operation along major roads to promote safety as well as security of life and property, some operators have shunned the order and have returned to the roads.
The Guardian investigation showed that commercial okada riders are operating in large numbers at Orile, Mile 2- Badagry expressway, Oshodi-Apapa expressway, Second Rainbow, Ojota and Berger bus stops.
It is not uncommon to see the operators soliciting passengers in these areas while causing a nuisance.
Last week, okada operators clashed with officials of Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Enforcement Agency (Task Force) at Cele bus stop along Oshodi- Apapa expressway, leaving residents and business owners scampering for safety.
During the clash, the okada riders outnumbered the task force personnel and pelted them with stones, while officials of the task force fired tear gas canisters and gunshots in the air to disperse okada riders on their way out of the area.
Recently, a woman, Mrs. Feranmi Lawal, who was knocked down by a motorcyclist at Orile market, said that she didn’t see the okada rider coming, so, she dashed across to the other side, but was suddenly knocked down by a motorcyclist who was on high speed, while running away from the task force officials.
She lamented a large number of okada riders on the roads, despite the ban.
A businessman, Mr. Emeka Mmaduka, said he still patronises okada operators every morning on his way to his shop because it is convenient.
Asked if he knew that he would be penalised if caught by officials while on the bike, he claimed that he is a sharp guy and that it’s unlikely for officials to arrest him.
An okada rider, who identified himself as Yusuf, said okada riders are kings of Lagos roads and can’t be banned without alternative means of livelihood.
“We will keep coming out on the roads until the government devises another means of livelihood for us.
People prefer okada to commercial vehicles, as okada will take you to the remotest part of the city which buses and taxis can’t reach.
So, we will keep getting patronage from citizens, regardless of the ban,” he stated.
Recall that Lagos State Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Fredric Oladeinde, had while announcing the ban on okada operation, re-emphasised the need for total compliance by riders and commuters, saying it’s for the safety and protection of life and property.
He also reminded riders that the state government has directed law enforcement agencies to punish both motorcyclists and passengers who patronise them.
Contacted, director, Press & Public Affairs Lagos State Taskforce, Gbadeyan Abdulraheem, said: “ We have never stopped impounding okada in Lagos and we will never relent in our efforts.
“Some of the riders are taking advantage of the political season and thinking we will relax, but it won’t happen.
“We will continue to enforce the law until they are completely out of Lagos highways.