About a month ago, I was carjacked and robbed on a Lagos highway and a motorcycle played a significant role in this horror. My story is the norm, motorcycles are dangerous in Lagos, and we all know this.
Public policy is an art and a science and those who are entrusted with this responsibility must be comfortable with both. Science asks us to measure objectively and art is entirely subjective. Thus, to create smart public policy, the policy maker must measure all the components including all the intended and unintended consequences of that policy thoroughly but it must also find smart and creative ways to ameliorate the more uncomfortable results of the policy in question. Anyone who is concerned in creating better lives for citizens must remember to be an artist and a scientist it is the only way.
Recently the Lagos State Government passed a law that requires a certain kind of motorcycle on Lagos highway. All over the world, in Africa and in Asia, this is the norm. In fact this law was probably copied from the international motorcycle best practices handbook, if it exits. In short, the law makes absolute sense. The motorcycle drivers and their overlords have been without law or order for far too long in Lagos. Lagos motorcycles kill and maim regularly. They are used to commit minor and major crimes and they do not add in any significant way to the health of the community they serve. This is the reality. To create a semblance of order in this sector requires force and an absolute commitment to procedures. The Fashola government is doing just that and one cannot fault this policy. About a month ago, I was carjacked and robbed on a Lagos highway and a motorcycle played a significant role in this horror. My story is the norm, motorcycles are dangerous in Lagos, and we all know this.
However, the best policy, like I mentioned previously, measures thoroughly its full consequences. It is valid to assume that this new law, if it works, will put the majority of those motorcycle drivers out of work since capital is impossible to get or at least cut their income in half, if they decide on only servicing local roads. Thus, it is important that we cost the loss of livelihood that this policy will bring. The level of unemployment in the country is already atrociously large that it begs us to finds smart ways to employ young people and to avoid laws that will put large amounts of them out of work. But should this fact hold a society hostage? Should we decide to do nothing and make do with the current status quo because we are afraid that more young people will be out of work? Absolutely not! What we must do is to find a way of creating smarter policies that will not exacerbate our current unemployment problems and also make our roads safer.
So what will work?
There are streets all over Lagos that are serviced only by the Keke NAPEP tricycles. If you wanted to get to the Ikeja City Mall from the bridge or even the Lagos State secretariat, you are better off with these tricycles. They are safer than motorcycles, and even cheaper still. The state government could have created a capital scheme for former okada drives to buy these tricycles and pay back the state government over time. This will increase the means of transportation in this overpopulated state and also keep young people at work. This should not be too hard, since Nigerian banks specialize in only lending to governments and this way capital can be extended to those who need it the most, with the government as guarantor.
A motorcycle to farming scheme holds even more promise. The country claims that it wants to wean itself from importing food, it can only do this, in the short run, by making farming very attractive to the young. This is an opportunity.
Nothing I have written up here is new or my idea. During this week, I had conversations with bus drivers, taxi drivers and many Keke NAPEP drivers. All of the ideas up there belong to these people. People can solve their community’s problem if only their representatives will listen to them.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.