Govt Calls For Calm As Okada Ban Takes Effect In Lagos
The Lagos State Government on Wednesday commenced enforcement of its ban on commercial motorcycles, also known as Okada, in six local government areas of the state.
The local governments include Ikeja, Surulere, Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island, and Apapa.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced the ban on May 18 during a meeting with police chiefs in the state, saying it is “total and indefinite”.
“After a critical review of our restriction on Okada activities in the first six local government areas where we restricted them on February 1, 2020, we have seen that the menace has not abated,” Sanwo-Olu said at the time.
“We are now directing a total ban on Okada activities across the highways and bridges within these six local government and their local council development areas, effective from June 1, 2022.”
The government views the activities of Okada as dangerous to road users.
The state’s Police Commissioner Abiodun Alabi, has described most Okada riders as criminals who must be taken off the road.
In January 2020, the government had proscribed the operations of okada and kekes.
But enforcement became lax due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the State Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso.
Omotosho, speaking to Channels Television, also noted that recent increases in accident rates have prompted the government to act again.
“Our doctors are complaining that more persons are coming in with okada emergency,” he said.
“About 45 percent of accidents in the first quarter were caused by okada. And most of the victims are between the ages of 30 to 39.”
Police Commissioner Alabi has vowed that enforcement of the ban this time will be more thorough.
But the police chief has also acknowledged that banning Okadas may have its side effects.
“We know that banning the Okada riders can actually increase crime rate. And we are not unmindful of that and we are already putting in place a lot of strategies to contend with it,” he said.
“We know that it will send a lot of them to unemployment. We are aware of that and are preparing for it.”
The Okada operators are expected to protest the ban on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the police organised a show of force as a warning against a breakdown of law and order.
“There is no need for any anxiety over the enforcement of the ban, which has been hailed by the majority of Lagosians as a reinforcement of the Lagos Traffic Law 2012 (amended in 2018),” a statement signed by Mr Omotosho on Tuesday said.
“The Government wishes to advise all law-abiding citizens to go about their businesses without any fear whatsoever as measures have been put in place to forestall any disturbance
“Lagosians and visitors are urged to co-operate with the law enforcement agencies in our collective interest.”