By Rachel Ogbu
Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola has asked everyone to build a consensus that the idea behind the new traffic law was to make sure life and assets of every resident of Lagos and their businesses were protected.
Recently speaking on the topic “Freedom from Fear” in relation to law and order in Lagos State, he said they should visit the hospitals and emergency wards and see those who have lost limbs, arms, those who had lost children or those who had become orphans by the recklessness of the okada riders.
Challenging those supporting the unregulated operation of commercial motorcyclist, the governor said that a lot depended on the citizenry in ensuring an orderly society. He traced the various well-organized public transport systems that had existed in the past like the L.M.T.S and L.S.T.C, abd said it should agitate the minds of citizens and members of the Club how the State arrived at its present state in terms of the unbridled operation of commercial motorcyclist.
According to him, in less than two decades, okada riding had gained so much prominence that it had become a phenomenon which should not have been allowed in the first place, stressing that the elite also contributed as many encouraged their staff to take okada to run errands quickly.
“The only way to stop the business from flourishing is by not patronising them. It is a business that if the income from it dwindles, the business proposition of those in it will change,” he said.
Fashola added that there should be concerted effort by everyone to ensure that Nigeria did not reach the notorious status of Bangkok in terms of traffic because Bangkok “is a city that loses about one billion dollars every year to traffic congestion and where the training of the average traffic police officer includes the delivery of babies from pregnant women who are trapped in traffic.”
He urged business executives and corporate leaders to rethink the types of ventures being supported, adding that tricycles known as Keke Marwa represented the sign of India’s age of poverty which the country is striving hard to move away from as it is now busy manufacturing TATA buses and wondered why that is what Nigerians are now embracing wholeheartedly.
“The same applies to motorcycles which originated from China. Currently, the Chinese are making fast trains for their usage while Nigerians are helping their economy by patronizing their Okadas,” he stated.
The governor noted that those who break the law with impunity were often more than those who did not, adding that over 100 Okada riders from Niger Republic had been deported to their country in the last 24 hours for breaking the traffic law.
He warned that “there is no going back on the enforcement of the state traffic law.”
Meanwhile, some of Lagosians have started groaning in pains in the aftermath of the ban on okada riders from plying certain roads in the metropolis.
In many areas in the metropolis, many people were stranded as the few commuter buses available were not enough to convey people to their various destinations.
Some Lagosians resort to trekking after waiting for a long period to board buses without success. The commuter bus drivers were overwhelmed by the large number of passengers waiting to board their buses.
There were several cases of people scrambling to get into some of the buses. Some passengers even opened the boot of the buses to get in on time before others.
One of the commuters, Amoforhai Audu, said he waited for a long time to get a bus from Agege to Dopemu without success because the crowd was too much, complaining he was not used to scrambling for vehicles.
Audu said that he resorted to trekking from Dopemu to Egbeda when he did not get a bus to convey him to his destination, adding that in the past, he would have taken an okada with ease to his destination.
Another commuter, Ulelu Smart, lamented that he spent a long time at Abule Egba to board a bus to the Government Secretariat, Alausa without success and that it was a kind hearted motorist who helped her out.
She said Fashola should have provided alternative means of transportation before banning okada riders from plying strategic routes in the state.
A trader also lamented the ban on okada riders, saying that it had affected her business drastically.
She said that rather than to wait endlessly for bus to convey her goods to her destination, okada rider would have helped her with ease.
Out of frustration, many Lagosians who were stranded at various bus stops accused the governor of not providing alternative means of transportation to alleviate the suffering of the people.