Lagos Must Heighten Enforcement Of Okada Restriction Law- Opeifa

Kayode_OpeifaThe Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Kayode Opeifa, on Saturday, warned that the state needs to do more to enforce the law restricting motorcyclists from plying a total of 475 roads.

“We hav not changed anything about the restriction law, it is still in force”he said, adding that “Lagos State is not the only state with such restriction in place.

“What we seem to notice that there are violations and outright disregard for the law and this is a sign that we need to do more to enforce the law”, he said.

He however said despite the restrictions, “you can ride any bike above 200cc on all roads” but warned that “it must not be for passenger carrying purposes”.

The commissioner, who noted that about 20 states in the country also have such restrictions in the country, noted that “Lagos has the most friendly regulations on motor cycles in this country”.

He further noted that it is the responsibility of all security agencies in the state to enforce the restriction law but noted that only the Nigeria Police has been doing so “since we started in November 2012 and they have been doing their best”.

He however maintained that people who don’t want the best for the State “started making media publications describing the operations of the police as harassment and extortion” and that “naturally set in some issues and it got to a point it became difficult”.

A youth activist, Lukman Lawal, said most of the youths that have chosen to ride motor-cycles for commercial purposes are doing so because of the “failure of the government” to provide adequate jobs.

He however noted that “any law that will better your health, welfare and make your security improve is a good law” adding that “to that extent you (okada riders) do not have any business with those roads.

“It is a fantastic law” he adds.

A former Trade Unionist, Mr Linus Okoroji, who has been carrying an Okada accident inflicted wound for eight months, on his part said he supported the Okada Restriction Law at the first instance.

He said no “Nigerian will be proud to join Okada as a means of transport, even in the rural areas let alone the urban areas about 25 years ago”, wondering how the country “managed to come to this level.

“As far as I am concerned, I am one of those who supported the law at the first instance”, revealing that “my colleagues in the civil society fought against me and walked me out of a meeting.

“But I am strong in my conviction that the law should remain”, he added.

The state government had on August, 2012 signed the Lagos State Traffic Law in to law. The objective of the legislation was to provide for road traffic administration.

It also seeks, among others, to restore sanity in the state transportation system of the state.

Some of the roads include Lagos Ibadan Expressway, Apapa Oshodi, Oworonshoki, Lagos Ikorodu, Lagos-Abeokuta, Agege motor road, Egbeda, Ikotun, Ikeja, Funsho Williams Avenue, Eti-Osa Lekki Coastal Road among others.

Fashola has no right to ban us on federal highways – Okada riders

A Lagos High Court has granted accelerated hearing into the suit filed by some commercial motorcycle operators,known as  okada riders, against the Lagos State Government for banning their operations on some federal highways in the state.

The suit filed by the commercial motorcycle operators under the aegis of the All Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and workers Association (ANACOWA) want the court to declare Section 3(1) of the new Lagos Traffic Law, which prohibits the riding, driving or propelling of a cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on the major highways in Lagos, as unconstitutional.

They further asked for a declaration that the defendants have no power ‘whatsoever’ to make any law to regulate traffic on any of the Federal Trunk or Highway Roads.

They argue that restricting their operations on the said roads would violate their rights to freedom of movement, guaranteed by Section 41(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

The defendants in the suit are the Lagos State Government, the Lagos State House of Assembly and the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye.

Presiding Justice Aishat Opesanwo however dismissed an interlocutory application which they filed to restrain the government from implementing the new Lagos State Traffic Law.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr Bamidele Aturu, told the court that they were withdrawing their interlocutory application so that they could get an accelerated hearing of the main suit.

“We believe that there is a need for the court to urgently deal with this matter because it is in the interest of the generality of the populace”adding that “many of them (Okada riders) have been suffering from this draconian action of the government to restrict the motorcyclists from operating in federal high ways” stated Mr Aturu.

“We are therefore asking the court to strike out the application and grant us an accelerated hearing of the substantive suit”, he said.

In the main suit, the motorcyclists challenged the ban placed on them from plying 475 roads in the state.

Road rampage

However, the Attorney general of the State, Mr Ade Ipaye who is the third defendant and counsel to Lagos State Government, informed the court that the law was already being enforced in the state with effect from the 2nd of August 2012.

He noted that “it was in reaction to its enforcement that the claimants herein only on Monday October 22, 2012 went on rampage.”

The Attorney General also noted that the law enforcement agencies were not joined as defendants in the suit.

“They are not parties to this action and we cannot tell this honourable court that they will not do their duty in enforcing the law”, he said.

The court has however fixed the 16th of November for hearing of the substantive suit.