Ahead of the May 4th expiration of the lockdown imposed by the Federal Government on Lagos State, Ogun State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Lagos State Government has introduced a strict framework for movement and re-opening of businesses.
The set of new guidelines, according to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in his ninth briefing at the State House in Marina on Wednesday, are to safeguard the gains which the State had made in the past four weeks in the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
From next Monday, Sanwo-Olu said the State Government will be implementing the dusk-to-dawn curfew announced by President Muhammadu Buhari last Monday as part of the phased measures to reduce risk of contagion of the COVID-19 disease among the residents and to consolidate on the response strategy deployed to combat the pandemic.
The Governor’s new framework made fundamental changes to public transportation system and business dealings at corporate offices, local markets and malls.
All passenger buses are not permitted to load to full capacity, Sanwo-Olu ordered in the new guidelines. All commercial vehicles, the Governor said, must carry maximum of 60 per cent of full capacity and their drivers must use face mask and observe other prescribed hygiene tips.
The Governor also suspended the operation of commercial motorcycles, popularly known as Okada, across the state, with the exception of those used for courier and logistics purposes.
Sanwo-Olu directed the drivers of tricycles (Keke NAPEP) operating in unrestricted areas not to carry more than two passengers per trip, adding that the passengers must keep appropriate distance.
Besides, food handlers at public eateries and restaurants have been mandated by the State Government to wear masks and hand gloves at all times, especially during the preparation and serving of foods.
Only take-out meals and delivery services will be permitted at eateries and restaurants, Sanwo-Olu ordered, warning that in-dining services will not be allowed at the moment.
The Governor said all businesses that will re-open next week must operate between the hours of 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The new directive on business operating hours affects all corporate firms, banks, malls and local markets.
He said: “Following the culmination of the second phase of the lockdown on Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, and the nationwide address by President Muhammadu Buhari, it has become imperative for me to address our residents and to share a broader framework for the implementation of the President’s directives here in Lagos.
“There will be a dusk-to-dawn curfew from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am daily. This means that we expect all Lagos residents to stay in their homes in these hours, except those in essential services.
“All commuters are mandated to wear face masks at all times, sanitise with alcohol-based sanitizer or wash their hands with soap and running water before and after of every trip. All motor parks and garages must avoid overcrowding. Social distancing is required for passengers queuing up to board buses.
“All buses should be loaded to a maximum of 60 per cent of full capacity. No standing allowed in all BRT and LBSL bus operations. All air- conditioning systems in public transport systems must be switched off.
“Commercial Motorcycles, popularly known as Okadas, are to suspend their operations statewide, except for those motorcycles used for courier and logistics purposes. Tricycles (Kekes) operating in unrestricted areas, must not carry more than two passengers per trip and must ensure appropriate social distancing is maintained between passengers.”
In addition, the Governor announced the restriction of operating hours of water transportation companies to the period between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm daily.
He said under no circumstance should vehicles carrying food items have more than seven passengers.
All public and private schools from primary level to tertiary education must remain closed, Sanwo-Olu directed. He said online classes and lessons that had already been started must continue until further notice.
The Governor added that businesses will be allowed to operate within “Controlled Easing Phase” framework, clarifying that the expiration of the lockdown was not a directive for the full reopening of the economy.
“It is a gradual and controlled easing of the lockdown. We will continue to monitor the public health situation; the economic impact of the lockdown and always adjust our responses accordingly,” the Governor said.
The Governor acknowledged the role of banking sector in sustaining the economy, urging banks to open all their branches and offer full complement of their services to the public. He, however, said banking operations must fall within the stipulated hours of 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, adding that banks’ managements must ensure regular cleaning and decontamination of their ATM machines and devices regularly used by the public.
He said: “Companies that choose to operate within this Controlled Easing Phase are to operate between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. They are also directed to operate at a maximum of 60 per cent of their staff capacity. Some non-essential workers can continue to work online and remotely from the office. Online and work-from-home arrangements are highly encouraged to continue as much as is practicable.
“All entertainment centres, such as event centres, cinemas, arcades, bars, casinos, day clubs, nightclubs and beaches shall remain closed till further notice. Swimming pools, gyms, barber-shops, Spas, beauty salons, and all public parks, including those in private and residential estates, will continue to remain closed for another two weeks in the instance, at which point we will review and advise on the permissible opening date for these establishments.”
Sanwo-Olu said the Government’s whistleblower channels would be fully opened to report companies that would flout the new directives. He said whistleblowers would be guaranteed full protection and their identities will be kept strictly confidential.
The Governor also announced that he would inaugurate a Committee on Thursday, which will comprise representatives of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Private Transport Operators, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), and the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget.
The committee, he said, will be charged with the responsibility of communicating the new State Government’s framework to their members for ease of implementation and compliance.
The Deputy Governor maintained that according to reports from the 27 general hospitals in the state, an average of 28 deaths related to motorcycles were recorded on an average every month.
“We have 27 general hospitals in Lagos, on the average monthly, 28 deaths related to motorcycles.
“The issue of crime, we now found out that the tricycle and motorcycles are now the vehicles for transporting drugs to our schools; so the security of lives, the prosperity of our children cannot just be ignored.
“We cannot as a state government, see this data and say that it is not important. The essence is to make sure that everybody that resides in Lagos is secure,” he stressed.
Mr. Hamzat reiterated earlier positions of the state government that the move to ban Okada and Keke is not to punish or restrict people from doing any job.
“The essence is not to punish anybody, or to restrict people from doing any job but you have to be alive before you can make money.
“The reality is people are dying, the security of our children is being compromised, so Lagos government must act and that is what we are doing,” he maintained.
Some residents of Lagos State who are physically challenged have occupied a section of Mobolaji Johnson Avenue, Alausa in Ikeja, the state capital in protest.
The protesters who are majorly commercial tricycle riders are protesting over the restriction of motorcycles and tricycles in some local government areas and expressways in the state by the Lagos State government.
The Governor also launched a mobile application designed to facilitate easy access to water transportation services.
The statement which was signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Gboyega Akosile added that the design and fabrication of the new boats were worked out by two local boat manufacturers.
Sanwo-Olu described the launch as a “great leap” in his administration’s strategy adding that this will rid Lagos roads gridlock and congestion.
“The narrative of transportation in Lagos is about to change for good, as we are set to take full advantage of the water bodies to decongest our roads and substantially reduce travel time for commuters.
“Today, we are launching eight units of additional ferries to complement the existing six ferries in the fleet of Lagos Ferry Service. It is glaring that for Lagos to be a functional smart city that we desire, there must be diversification of the mode of transportation. There must be interconnectivity of the rail, road, and water transportation systems.”
The Governor observed that the commencement of commercial operations on waterways would promote healthy living and restore the aesthetics of the environment through the reduction of carbon emission.
He called on private investors to move in and harness opportunities in the value chain, noting that the Government had solved the teething problems associated with the mode of transportation and infrastructure.
The Governor added that the State would drive full compliance on measures put in place to ensure the safety of commuters using the waterways, adding that the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) was being strengthened to effectively discharge its monitoring and regulatory duties in line with best practice.
Sanwo-Olu also promised that modern jetties would also be built in Badagry, Lekki, and Ajegunle, pledging that the one being built in Ijegun would be completed.
The governor commended some of the ride-hailing companies for their level of compliance, asking their riders to obey the directive.
“The little discomfort experienced by commuters on some routes due to the absence of motorcycles and tricycles is noted. This will not last as alternatives are being rolled out, a fleet of 65 buses will join the others on some major routes as from Monday, February 3, 2020: No less than 550 more buses are being expected.”
He added that “Besides, 14 ferries will be commissioned on Tuesday; This will further open up the waterways, reduce travel time on various routes and provide safe, dependable and comfortable alternatives for commuters.”
Meanwhile, the MD/CEO of LBSL, Mr Idowu Oguntona, has extended the services of the buses to include; Ikeja – Ogba, Berger – Ogba, Ikeja – CMS.
Other routes are Oshodi – Ajah, CMS – Ajah, Inner Marina – Ajah.
He disclosed that more buses will be deployed by the company in no distant time.
Calm has returned to Ijora-Olopa area of Lagos where protesters burnt tyres to protest the ban of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in the state on Monday.
When Channels TV got to the scene of the incident, policemen and men of the OP MESA (A joint military operation) were seen addressing a group of people in an apparent move to ascertain those involved in the act.
There were traces of bonfire with shattered glasses at the scene.
Eyewitnesses told Channels TV that protesters hurled stones before security operatives contained the situation.
On Saturday, the Lagos state government started to implement its ban on okada and tricycles in parts of the state.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Monday, said the federal government does not have the jurisdiction to intervene in the recent ban of okada and tricycles in some parts of Lagos State.
The Lagos state government started to implement a ban on motorcycles, popularly known as okadas, and tricycles in major parts of the state on Saturday.
But the Minister, who was a guest on Sunrise Daily, said the matter was a state affair.
“Implementation of transport policy is essentially a state affair,” he said. “So you can’t be telling a state whether they want ‘okada’ or tricycles or not. That’s not our responsibility. It is for the state government to decide what to do.”
However, Amaechi, who is a former Governor of Rivers State, said he could see some reason why the state government made the decision.
“Speaking as a former Governor, when I was in Rivers State, they were using motorcycles to rob and kidnap people; and the police could never get them because they were using cars; so I banned motorcycles and we had peace. The number of accidents was also high – the orthopaedic hospital was full every day.
The Lagos State Police Command, on Saturday, began enforcing the state government’s directive to restrict the operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in the state.
The State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu who led a team of officers to various parts of the state to ensure compliance of the law said that those arrested will face the consequences of their actions.
Some commercial motorcycle operators on Friday took to the street to express their grievances over the recent decision of the state government to restrict their movement in some Local Government Areas, bridges, and highways in the state.
The operators which include majorly that of Gokada and Max.ng staged a peaceful protest from Oregun road to the government secretariat in Ikeja.
Bearing various placards, the protesters appealed to the state government to regulate their services and not restrict them from operating.
They lamented that the business is their only means of survival.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, announced earlier this week that the government would enforce the ban on motorcycles and tricycles in six local government areas, as well as major highways and bridges from February 1.
He explained that the decision was taken after a robust assessment of the debate on the rate of accidents in Lagos, saying security and safety of the lives of the residents were paramount.
He also warned that all offenders and violators would be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the state.
The eid-el-fitr celebration in Jos, plateau state was marked amidst tight security as security personnel were at various spots monitoring worshippers and worship centres to avert any breach of peace.
Security chiefs led by commander of special task force, commissioner of police and the commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were seen in Jos metropolis and environs to make sure that security arrangements are in place.
Muslim faithful in Plateau state, north central Nigeria came out in large numbers to offer prayers at the end of the Ramadan fasting with maximum security measures put in place by security agents.
In spite of the warning by security agents on the ban of motorcycle and dangerous driving during the festival, there were some that disobeyed and the patrol team of the security chiefs was at hand to apprehend defaulters.
The security chiefs expressed satisfaction on the peaceful celebration and security arrangement with assurance that more security measures will still be put in place for the rest of the festive period.