Okada riders leave Lagos as police enforce ban

Commercial motorcyclists popularly known as okada riders have started leaving Lagos, as enforcement of ban on motorcycle and tricycle operations in major areas of the state took effect on Saturday.

Many okada riders have already surrendered to the enforcement by relocating from Lagos with their motorcycles.

A resident of Ishaga Close, Itire, Yusuf Salau, told Sunday PUNCH that a number of motorcyclists left Igbeyin Adun Street, Ishaga, around 6am on Saturday in two trucks loaded with their motorcycles.

“The majority of them are not from Lagos. They told me they were going back to their states. It is possible some of them would relocate to neighbouring states where there is no ban,” Salau said.

An okada rider, Salisu Garuba, from Nasarawa State, said he just bought his motorcycle and he did not want to lose it to the police.

He stated, “I am going back to my state. Police once seized my motorcycle and I knew what I went through before I got it back. If they seize it this time around, I doubt I would get it back.”

The state government had on Monday proscribed the operations of okada and tricycle riders in Apapa LGA, Apapa Iganmu LCDA, Lagos Mainland LGA, Yaba LCDA, Surulere LGA, Itire-Ikate LCDA, and Coker-Aguda LCDA.

Others are Ikeja LGA, Onigbongbo LCDA, Ojodu LCDA, Eti-Osa LGA, Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA, Iru-Victoria Island LCDA, Lagos Island LGA and Lagos Island East LCDA.

The ban covered 2,000 routes, including major roads, expressways and bridges.

Meanwhile, stranded commuters around the state have expressed discomfort caused by the ban which affects six local governments and nine local council development areas of the state.

A hair stylist in Ogba, Mrs Olabisi David, told Sunday PUNCH that she trekked from her residence in Ikeja GRA to Ikeja under bridge, where she boarded a bus to her shop.

“I suffered today (Saturday),” David bemoaned. “I was at the roadside for one hour without seeing any tricycle to take to Ikeja under bridge,” she said.

David stated that she later walked down to the Police College, hoping to catch up with any tricycle. She was disappointed. “I trekked down to the under bridge. I was so tired. It is not convenient for me to be walking this long distance every day but I have to go to shop. Government should put a human face to the ban,” she stated.

Between 9am and 10am when our correspondent visited Ogunusi Road, no tricycle rider operated along the highway. People were seen at different bus stops along the route, waiting impatiently for buses, many of which had already been filled up from the take-off point in Ojodu-Berger.

“This (the ban) is unfair. The people are the ones bearing the consequence, not the people in government,” a boutique operator in Ikeja, Faith Akindele, told our correspondent at Grammar School bus stop.

She urged the government to device a better means of enforcing road traffic laws rather than the outright ban. “It is usually tough to get a bus en route to Ikeja from here (Grammar School bus stop) in the morning. So many people boarded tricycles,” she said.

Vincent Cletus, a businessman, who sells printing materials on Agege Motor Road, one of the restricted routes, lamented that he was stranded at a park around Jibowu, where he normally took an okada or tricycle to his shop.

He said, “I had to trek down to the shop for about one hour. There were buses but people were very many at the park and I couldn’t struggle to board a bus. I was running late and customers were already calling me.”

“I just got to my office (at 10am) after I started my journey from Egbe to Bode Thomas. The majority of it was with my feet. I trekked so tey (much) that legs ache. Monday go (will be) hard,” A Twitter user, Urueye Shadrach, wrote.

Our correspondent observed that few okada riders operated along Ogunusi Road and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway using ‘pick-and-go,’ tactic as one of them described it.

“I didn’t wait at bus stops as I normally do. I sighted passengers from distance and quickly picked them. I know it’s risky because policemen were on patrol to enforce the ban but this is the only means of livelihood I have,” an okada rider, Musa Idris, said.

The Chairman, Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi, described the compliance level as “fantastic,” adding that his team went to many areas, including Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Lekki, and Ajah.

“The riders complied even though there were pockets of disobedience. We just started today (Saturday). We will not relent. We arrested seven tricycles and three motorcycles but some police divisions would still bring (seized motorcycles and tricycles) to our office.”

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Bala Elkana, did not pick calls to his mobile and had yet to reply to a text message sent to him on the enforcement as of press time.

Written by Afeez Hanafi, published on Punch Newspapers