By Oluwasanmi Femi
In as much, no responsible government will want to add to the high level of unemployment in the area of its jurisdiction, at the same time, no government will like to sit down and fold arms while the lives and property of her citizens are sacrified on the alter of carelessness and other avoidable circumstances. This probably informed the banning of the motorcycle (Okada) and tricycles (Keke Marwua) in some parts of Lagos.
Lagos State Government on Monday, 3rd February, 2020, commenced fully the enforcement of the extant Transport Sector Reform Law 2018 which banned the operation of Okada and Keke Marwua in some Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) which partially began on February 1st.
The Areas include Apapa LGA, Apapa Iganmu LCDA, Lagos Mainland LG, Yaba LCDA, Surulere LGA, Itire-Ikate and Coker-Aguda LCDAs and Ikeja LGA, Onigbongbo and Ojodu LCDAs, Eti-Osa LGA, Ikoyi-Obalende and Iru/Victoria Island LCDAs, Lagos Island LGA and Lagos Island East LCDA and some highways, bridges and others.
In order to reduce the impact of this decision on the people and businesses in the State, the government on 3rd February, added 65 big buses to the existing ones and commissioned additional 14 jetties to the State’s Ferries on the water way the following day. Despite this effort, alot of people were still stranded as trekkers flooded the streets of Lagos while series of protest were organized by the Okada/Keke Marwua association and some sympathizers to show their grievances.
While these protests were largely peaceful, the one held at Ijora and Iyana Ipaja were violence with the demand on government to reverse its decision. In Ijora for instance, there was an exchange of gunshots between the Protestants and the policemen which at Iyana Ipaja crescendo to the killing of a student due to stray bullet. Though, this further justifies the position of the government on the war against the Okada rider and Keke Marwua drivers.
For instance, where do the Okada/Keke Marwua riders see guns to confront the policemen two days after the commencement of the policy? This automatically suggests that the guns used in the guns show off were some of the guns used by some of the criminals in ‘okada/Keke marwua rider uniform’ to terrorise their victims in the night after carrying out their survey during the day.
This is one of the challenges confronting Lagos State since the inception of this administration. These criminals, most of the time, use Okada/Keke Marwua to escape after hijacking people’s phones, bags, and valuables in the traffic bottleneck situation and in a crowdy areas.
Apart from stealing and other similar activities on the road, the thugs also use it to reinforce during crisis situation. This occurred at Berger in December, 2019, when two factions fighting for chairmanship of the motor park blocked the highway to demonstrate their madness. This is not to talk of those that Okada have sent to the early grave.
The number of Okada and Marwua related accident at Igbobi Hospital is so high to the extent that the most hard hearted person on Earth will like to ban Okada and Keke Marwua operators if elected the Governor. This is not to talk of the way they dragged road with the motorists on both the ‘highways and lowways’ in the State.
The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LSTMA) had through her General Manager, Mr Olajide Oduyoye, on 1st February, accused the commercial Okada and Keke Marwua operators of being responsible for the chaos and disruption witnessed on roads in the state.
Most of these operators use their Okada and Keke Marwua to scratch the body of cars, break the side mirror of cars, in some instances threaten to beat the drivers and cause accident for motorists through illegal stoppage. These are things that no government will want to accommodate in its areas of jurisdiction.
However, the way the government carried out this actioin shows that there is a missing link in the implementation process. The government seems to have failed to provide alternative for those doing the business and their customers. Naturally, government ought to be the father of all by providing security, jobs, enabling environment and other things that promote peaceful and prosperous society which seems to be missing in the formulation process of this policy.
This seems to have given room for the explioters to hike the transport faire, added salt to the injuries of the populace by organizing series of protests and painted the picture of this great policy with a long term benefits bad in the sight of some Lagosians.
So, while trecking to the promised land where more buses and better means of transportation will be provided to ameliorate the impact of this ban on Lagosian and businesses, the government should try and absorb those that have lost their jobs as a result of this decision in order to prevent the resurgence of insecurity in Lagos State when the buses arrive because an idle man is the workshop of the devil.
Oluwasanmi Femi is a Public Affairs Analyst.