Change is inevitable and sometimes painful… humans are not built to accept change in auto-mode – we adjust and eventually conform.
I’ll want to say I’m one of the people who did not only vote for Governor Fashola but also admire his mission and drive to make Lagos State a better place or a “Mega City”. Going into details of the governor’s achievements will be stating the obvious and with the numerous facelift on some of the most notorious parts of the city, we can all agree that the man is working.
As the case is with past and matter of fact, any government, not all policies and laws are embraced with smiles. Some people will be affected directly or indirectly and their reactions will depend on how intimate they are with the subject matter. Remember when some people’s houses had to be demolished for one reason or the other. Some were compensated according to the conditions attached to the exercise but others got nothing.
The recent ban of motorbikes popularly called okada on 475 roads in Lagos is a major spinoff from the reviewed Traffic Law of the State. I have personally studied the law… I saw all the penalties attached to breaking any part of it. I also understand that the law is not meant to victimize anybody per say but how much do okada riders make per day and you want to fine them N20, 000 for breaking a law? I even read in the news some weeks back that the State government destroyed over 3,000 impounded motorbikes and still counting.
Lagosians are arguably the most impatient people in Nigeria and to control the hassle, you need to apply a level of ‘iron-handism’. Regardless, we also have to check the odds. I’m not an advocate against the law but I believe certain and realistic measures should be placed on ground to help people adjust. Most of us witnessed the New Year fuel palava in Nigeria. The most responsive State in protest of the said subsidy was Lagos. I was at Gani Fawehinmi Park on several occasions and to my surprise, a lot of the people that I thought would be immune to the hike in petrol price were also on ground to protest. Why did I bring this up? – The Federal government at the time said it would provide 1,600 buses to support the transport system across the federation. The last time I checked, FG was going to buy 1,200 more to spread across the country. Some of the said buses are in Lagos State but I guess our options are so numerous that most of us have not noticed any of the federal allocated buses.
Back to Lagos State… one of the reasons for the ban of Okada on over 400 roads in the State is evident in the high number of okada related casualties in hospitals across the state. We must agree that the situation is quite complicated because if we check the number of okadas that ply each of the banned routes, we’ll also have a very high number of people jobless already. That’s why I believe the government should have created an appropriate number of options to help the okada riders, and also enhance the state transport system for the people.
Presently, the number of people standing in BRT buses does not only remind us of the ‘Molue’ era, we can also agree that they are not enough to support the other popular commuter buses.
The cost of living in the country is very high and most of these okada riders feed their families from what they make daily. This also explains their aggressive and destructive act when they protested recently. The state government should know that the ban will not be accepted with open arms and should have called for dialogue. The threat by the Lagos State House of Assembly, to ban okada completely is not only insensitive, it also unmasks the fact that our leaders are not concerned about the plight of the masses.
The ban of okada on the highway and certain routes in the state is not a bad idea but not creating other avenues for people to move on, questions the action. We can’t help but expect that this ban will most likely affect the security of the state because, seriously, how much can the Police do to control the possible increase of armed robbery in the State? The recent one I heard took place between 8pm and 9pm around VGC on Sunday, November 4, 2012… who knows what else will happen as time goes on… we don’t want the enactment of the poor having nothing else to eat, but the rich.
“Eko o gbodo baje o”
James Silas is a creative writer, music journalist, A&R and media Consultant with Jarmzone Entertainment: www.jarmzone.com. He manages Jarmzone Blogspot. He is also the Associate Editor of Hip-hop World Magazine – a foremost music journal in Nigeria.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.