When Nigerian governments have a problem they cannot solve by ignoring it, they choose instead to ban it instead. We saw the federal government ban the production of codeine after the BBC documentary Sweet Codeine expose the corruption within the over counter drug industry, even though codeine was not an illegal substance and the businesses that produce codeine did so legally. The government eventually had to backtrack on its decision.
Effective Feb 1, 2020, the Lagos State government has imposed an outright ban on commercial Okada and Keke plying:
This includes Opay and Gokada.
— Sandra Ezekwesili (@SEzekwesili) January 27, 2020
We also saw the Lagos state government over the years ban trucks from major highways within the state and eventually not implement because of the influence of the National Union of Road Transport Workers and private interests who kicked against the implementation of these mandates. But most common in Nigeria is the snap decision to ban certain forms of automotive transportation for varying reasons. States in Nigeria are constantly oscillating between banning commercial motorcycles and failing to implement as the demand for these services overwhelm the government’s efforts redirect demand. It has become a never ending cycle of rash decisions and the breakdown of those decisions as a result of poor implementation. And now that cycle has begun again.
BREAKING NEWS: The Lagos State Government has banned the activities of Commercial Motorcycles (Okada) & Tricycles (Keke) in some LGAs in the State: Apapa, L/Mainland, Surulere, Eti Osa, L/Island, Ikeja effective from Feb 1, 2020. #ForAGreaterLagos @Riddwane @gbenga_omo pic.twitter.com/A79VP0p6dH
— Jubril A. Gawat (@Mr_JAGs) January 27, 2020
After deciding to ban okadas and kekes in certain areas of Lagos to ‘curb’ insecurity, the Lagos state government has suggested it is introducing buses to work as a substitute to serve the populations in these areas that are going to be affected by the sudden ban. It is already obvious that this plan will fail, because it removes the existing solution to demand without testing the possible alternatives for success. It also completely ignores providing alternatives to engage the service providers who have invested in okadas and kekes and keep the riders employed.
How long will we continue to circle around this kind of incompetence.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.