by Isi Esene
The Lagos Sate government has declared its intention to meaningfully engage registered motorcycle operators popularly known as ‘okada’ riders who have been thrown out of work due to the enactment of the new traffic law which prohibits them from plying certain roads in the metropolis.
According to the new traffic law, only those with 200cc engine capacity can operate in the permitted areas.
The commissioner for transport, Kayode Opeifa, said this at the 11th Business Forum of the Lagos State University’s MBA Heritage held in Lagos Island on Wednesday. He maintained that the government will not go back on its decision to keep the highways free of commercial motorcyclists.
“We are resolute about the Road Traffic Law; there is no going back on it. But we are going to re-certify the okada operators resident in Lagos.
“We are going to start a registration process, and in the process, if we discover those who have skills, we will send them to the skill acquisition centres established by the state government to hone these skills,” he said.
He said it is wrong to perceive ‘okada’ operation as an occupation saying no one would wish to bequeath it as an inheritance to their children.
Opeifa said, “Some of them could be absorbed into the LAGBUS as conductors and drivers. We also have agriculture, where some of them can also be useful. Apart from our farms in Lagos, we have bought landed property in Ogun State and Abuja, and we are going to buy more in Benue for agriculture. So, the options are there for them.”
While giving his keynote speech, the managing director, Megavons West Africa Limited, Rotimi Oladele, said Lagos State is yet to establish a mass transit mode of transportation which commercial motorcycles represent.
“Let us re-brand them as community transport system, license them and restrict them to their domiciliary local government areas,” he suggested.
Opeifa reportedly advised that the review of the Constitution currently going on should whittle down some powers of the government at the centre, so that states and local governments could develop the modes of transportation that suited them.