Temie Giwa: The riders and their representatives (YNaija Frontpage)

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.

Comments (4)


    uuumm…"did u read" LINE 9?: "…You may have made a few VALID points…" – YES my goal was to highlight -debunk and deride that '1 single statement' that "THIS LAGOS GOVT’s POLICY on BIKES CANNOT BE FAULTED"…cheers

    …and to think they crushed some of their bikes to scrap metal??.. oh the poor hard working people…

    …AND just musing…HOW DOES A TRAFFIC OFFENDEr GET a JaIL TERM THAT MAKES HIM AS AN EX-CON – In the Same class as Robbers, Rapists, Murderers… please dont get me Started… i like ur xpressn …'trigger happy with enacting laws on ratha MUNDANE issues'

  2. Andy, did you read the article to the END? And did you truly comprehend the article if you read it to the end because I do not understand how you can justify this comment of yours if you did. You picked up on that single statement and chose to disregard the points/suggestions she raised which she says are from the people mainly affected by the okada ban.

    However, with refernce to the discourse on this okada ban in Lagos State: I have also been adversely affected by the reckless use of an okada and I think they can be a real menace but I do not think that they should be outrightly banned. The Lagos State Government which seems so trigger happy with the enactment of laws for seemingly mundane issues should consider an effective regulation/enforcement system for the okadas. It is wasteful and spiteful to not just impound these okadas but to destroy them so willfully. What purpose does that serve? It breaks my heart to think of some of these honest hardworking okada riders/owners who must have toiled, scrapped and saved to buy the motorcycle only for the government to rob him/her of what must seem like a lifeline. It is an irresponsible government that does not provide social welfare and amenities for its citizens and then takes away the means of livelihood of the citizens. It is irresponsible, cruel and wicked.

  3. Seriously???

    LADY…Cars, Buses, Tankers, AIRPLANES, Tobacco, Weed, Alcohol all Kill, Hurt and Maim with waaaay more Regularity and Severity – how many of these have been ban? WHAT WOULD BE MORE PRACTICAL WOULD BE TO CREATE A LANE FOR THESE BIKES (which doesnt take much – considering "they" had no headache making us cringe in traffic to create the BRT lanes)….PEOPLE ROB PEOPLE..BIKES DONT ROB PEOPLE…I HATE TO THINK HOW MANY now X-Okada Riders may RESORT to CRIME JUST TO INDICT GOV. FASHOLA'S GOVT. OUT OF SHEER PAIN FOR BEING BETRAYED BY THE GOVERNMENT THAT SWORE TO PROVIDE FOR THE INTERESETS OF & PROTECT THE POOR/MASSES [& NOT because they'd rather be Criminals].

    You may have made a few valid points BUT TO STATE THAT THIS LAGOS GOVT's POLICY on BIKES CANNOT BE FAULTED IS Ludicrous, Ridonculous and BlindSidedly ByAss. You seem like a really reasonable and enlightened person So i cant figure how you'd believe some of what you put forth in this article. Please dont get me wrong, i'm not trying to start a brawl, im just trying to chart a course, so our hearts can yearn for more…We Get so easily satisfied when our leaders take shortcut solutions over confronting the real Problem from its root -Insecurity, Unemployment, Bad or No Infrastructure??? We deserve and should demand much more from our leaders. Wake up and smell the coffee please. nuff said!

    1. Temie Giwa, just for the record – i'm sincerely sorry abt your ordeal with the car jacking by a robber on okada…no one should have to face such a terrible experience… but still PEOPLE ROB PEOPLE..BIKES DOn't ROB PEOPLE…and this is an express indictment of our security agency…the popo

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