No Going Back On Okada Ban, Lagos Commissioner Says

Contrary to recent rumours, the Lagos State Government has said it has no intention of reversing the restriction of commercial motorcyclists from plying major highways and bridges in the state. This statement was made on Sunday, 24 August, 2014, by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, saying that the government was convinced that the Lagos State Road Traffic Law 2012 was made in public interest. “This administration does not have the intention to reverse itself on this important issue now or in the immediate future. “The reason is simple. By enacting the Law of 2012, we have made considerable gains in discharging the primary responsibility of government to our people in the area of protection of life and property. “Also, the decision to regulate the use of commercial motorcycles on our highways was not a unilateral decision, but a response to popular demands by members of the public who have been at the receiving end in their daily interactions with the okada operators,” Idirogba said. Condemning those saying motorcyclists were banned in Lagos, the commissioner explained that there were 9,100 roads in Lagos State, saying that motorcycles below 200cc were restricted on only 475 of the roads. “This represents 5.6 per cent of roads in Lagos. The result and impact of this decision have been tremendous. Prior to the enactment of the law, we were recording an average of 16 motorcycle-related deaths across the state every month and an average of 646 injured patients from motorcycle-related accidents at states secondary and tertiary hospitals. “As of March this year, our statistics show only 1 to 2 motorcycle-related deaths and less than 100 motorcycle accident related injuries in a month,” he added. The commissioner said information going round that the government wanted to reverse the restriction was false, adding the Fashola-led administration was the only government that had given recognition to the use of motorcycle as a means of commercial transportation through the instrument of the law and regulations meant to protect the riders and the citizens. Ibirogba said those sponsoring the information were plotting to snatch ballot boxes with the use of okadas during the 2015 general election. “We encourage our okada riders to go about their lawful duty by obeying all the provisions of the traffic law,” the commissioner added. It would be recalled that some members of the Lagos State House of Assembly last week sponsored a motion seeking to a review of the traffic law. Political, economic, social and security reasons have been adduced to either support or condemn the move by the state lawmakers who are pushing to cut down on the number of roads the commercial motorcycles are currently disallowed to operate. For the ten lawmakers sponsoring the motion, they include Ajibayo Adeyeye who is the House majority leader, Sanai Agunbiade (Ikorodu 1), Bisi Yusuf (Alimosho 1), Moshood Oshun (Lagos Mainland 2), Rotimi Olowo (Somolu 1), Mudashiru Obasa (Agege 1), Adebimpe Akinsola (Ikorodu 2), Hakeem Masha (Lagos Island 1), Olumuyiwa Jimoh (Apapa 2) and Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa 2), the motive is basically to put paid to what they see as continued harassment of ‘hapless Okada operators’ by security agents particularly the police who are fully taking advantage of the law to exploit and extort the ‘Okada’ operators. The lawmakers while making case for the review argued that the police were misapplying the law. According to them, the traffic law was aimed at reducing recklessness on the part of road users and not for the purpose of exploitation by those to implement it. They contended that given the way it is being applied, the law enforcement agents including the police and LASTMA have gone out of control and this should not be allowed to continue. According to the lawmakers, their move is motivated by constant complaints from the ‘Okada’ operators in their constituencies about police harassments and intimidation even on approved routes, just as they called on Fashola to reach out to Umar Manko, the state commissioner of police, on the need to urgently call his men to order. They argued that it has become imperative to revisit the list of the restricted routes so they could be amended where possible to avoid the conflicts between the police and commercial motorcycle operators.

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