Lagos residents have called on the state government to ban commercial motorcycles in Lagos.
At a stakeholders’ forum convened to review the ban on commercial motorcycles, popularly called okada, in six local government areas, participants unanimously called for a total ban on the mode of transportation.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, explained that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu mandated a committee to engage stakeholders and review the ban, which took effect on June 1, 2022.
He said: “After seeing the results of the ban in the six LGAs, many Lagosians have been calling on the government to expand the ban. Some say it should be statewide, considering the present anxiety over security. Mr. Governor has mandated us to have this meeting to discuss what next.”
Calling on stakeholders to present sincere opinions and recommendations that would aid the government’s decision, Omotoso noted that data available after the ban indicated an improvement in security, a reduction in motorcycle accidents and lower admission of okada victims in hospitals.
Commissioner for Transportation Dr. Frederic Oladeinde said an anti-okada squad was inaugurated to aid the police and task force in enforcing the ban.
The Commissioner said: “In the affected areas within the period under review, available records show that crime and accident rates reduced by 86 per cent and 63.7 per cent, while 7,500 motorcycles were impounded and crushed.”
He said the forum was convened “to reignite the state’s commitment to tackling insecurity, crime, non-compliance to safety rules and traffic regulations as well as underground activities perpetuated by non-state actors with the use of Okada”.
Oladeinde gave an assurance that the state would consider the views at the forum in taking further decisions on the okada menace.
Kick-starting conversations at the meeting, the moderator and anchor of the popular Journalists’ Hangout on TVC, Mr. Babajide Otitoju, emphasised the need for participants to give candid opinions that would help Sanwo-Olu take the most beneficial decision on okada.
He cited examples of other states that had banned okada as Akwa Ibom, Kano and Enugu.
Lead Speaker at the forum, Prof. Bamidele Badejo, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Management Sciences, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, traced the emergence of motorcycles as a means of transportation in Lagos to the economic depression in the early 80s.
He, however, noted that the advent of ‘okada’ heralded security and safety challenges, health consequences, confusion on highways and high level of indiscipline and harassment on Lagos roads, among others.