February 4, 2023

February 4, 2023

Okada Ban: How Far Can Sanwo-Olu Go?

By Augustine Akhilomen

 

The recent pronouncement of an outright ban of commercial motorcycle operations, popularly known as okada in Lagos by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been described as a move in the right direction considering the security threats and other nuisance they pose in the state.

 

However, there are concerns that the enforcement level by the government has been rather too loose, as they have done many times in the past.

 

 

The governor had on May 18 announced a total ban on Okada riders from operating in six local government areas and nine Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state.

 

But this is not the first time the Sanwo-Olu administration has banned Okada operations in parts of Lagos, yet enforcement seems to fizzle out months after such announcement.

 

In the past, former governors of the state – Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola, Akinwunmi Ambode all placed bans during their various tenures. The implementation of which has recorded little or no success.

 

The fresh Okada ban follows the February 2020 restriction placed on the activities of commercial motorcycles by the incumbent governor.

 

 

Sanwo-Olu said the Government took the decision in line with the State’s Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 to immediately address the chaos and menace created by the operations of Okada in the listed areas.

 

The affected LGAs are – Ikeja, Surulere, Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island, and Apapa.

 

Interestingly, out of 20 local government areas in the state, the ban affected six: Surulere, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island, Ikeja, Eti Osa and Apapa.

 

 

With a combined population of 6.8 million, these six areas account for 28% of the population of Lagos. These six areas are also the commercial centres of Lagos, with thousands of big businesses offering high-quality jobs in Ikoyi, Marina, Ikeja and Victoria Island.

 

The government claimed it had genuine reasons to impose the ban at this time.

 

The top concern was safety.

 

Security was another issue. Within the last ten years, Lagos has witnessed an influx of informal okada riders from other Nigerian states and even neighbouring countries.

 

The government of Lagos state may not be able to completely stop the use of okada as a commercial means of transportation for its over 20 million residents living in a dense landmass of 3,577 km².

 

However, there are other pressing issues that remain hanging, such as traffic congestion, porous transport system, lack of infrastructure, scarcity in the availability of jobs, etc.

 

With a combined population of 6.8 million, these six areas account for 28% of the population of Lagos. These six areas are also the commercial centres of Lagos, with thousands of big businesses offering high-quality jobs in Ikoyi, Marina, Ikeja and Victoria Island.

 

There are fears that out-of-work persons will be tempted to get involved in crimes just to make ends meet. In reality, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is over 30 percent, but data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Labor Force Survey notes that Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 27% in Q2 2020.

 

Some Lagos residents on Wednesday expressed divergent views over the ban on commercial motorcycles in the state by the state government.

 

Mr Ayodele Ojo, a civil servant, who resides at Ojuelegba, Surulere, commended the state government for the ban.

 

He urged the government to enforce and ensure total compliance this time round.

 

“This is not the first time the governor is issuing such a directive, announcement is not enough but enforcement.”

 

Ojo said that some riders use their motorcycles to kill, steal and to destroy.

 

“Motorcycle is used for fast get-away in crime scenes, the ban should stay so that sanity can return to our roads.

 

“We can no longer condone criminality all in the name of unemployment, motorcycle business is not the only means of livelihood, there are many other businesses that people can engage in.

 

“The ban will rid the city of insecurity and other vices,” he said.

 

However, a businessman, Mr Olaniyi Daniel, resident of Agege, frowned at the ban of commercial motorcycles.

 

He said banning okada would further broaden the way to unemployment.

 

“Okada creates a massive job for the unemployed young people and the livelihood of many depend on it.”

 

Daniel said that banning okada was not the solution to okada riders’ menace and would not solve insecurity instead, it would increase the rate of criminal activities in the state.

 

‘Prohibiting okada will not solve the issue of crimes in the state; criminals are very sensitive and strategic in their ways. If the government bans okada, they will find other ways to perpetrate their crime.

 

“I believe it is not only motorcycles that are used to commit crime, criminals use cars too.”

 

He urged the government to provide alternatives to alleviate the initial inconveniences,” he said.

 

Mrs Glory Ameh, resident of Apapa, said that the ban on okada was not a good move, adding that it would bring undue hardship to some residents of the state.

 

“My area cannot be accessed except by Okada, it is the only means of transportation, if the ban is enforced, it will bring undue hardship.”

 

Lara Garuba, Founder of Young Lawyers Monitoring Club, said the news on Lagos State banning Okada is 50:50.

 

She argued that although the menace of criminal elements exists among Okada riders, the cause needs to be nipped in the bud. She, however, questioned the fact that there was no viable alternative means of transportation for the poor masses”

 

“I know we have a thinking governor, so I want to believe he has plans for a better replacement or a structured solution for riders and commuters. Many Okada riders will be out of jobs which will affect their economic welfare. Unemployment is correlated to criminality.”.

 

While the government slowly considers its next move, for the private sector, creative and practical solutions to Lagos’s transport issue are needed now more than ever.

 

In the meantime, stakeholders are of the opinion that the government should reconsider regulation while working to deliver an efficient multi-modal transport system for the city which will evolve a win-win situation for everyone.

 

Significantly, observers are of the view that Sanwo-Olu should listen to the many stakeholders of the Okada economy. The Okada value chain is long and includes many citizens in various roles who depend on it for sustainability and mobility.

 

They should rethink because of the many loopholes in the ban.

 

It is beyond the government showing its might, but governance, especially in a democratic setting, must put the people first and ultimately make life comfortable for them.

 

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