Sex is now added to the list of things affected by the Lagos State ban on commercial motorcycles. Who knew ‘okada’ riders had that much impact on the city’s sexual life?
Recently some journalists went on to investigate how much an influence the ban was on commercial sex workers in Lagos. According to their report, they seemed the worst hit by the situation as no ‘okada’ riders spelt no customers.
“Okada riders are our biggest customers but since most of them are now out of work, they don’t patronise us anymore,” one said.
A report revealed a visit to three brothels within the Alausa community of Ikeja. The atmosphere in each was sombre; absent was their verve hallmark.
Esther, a prostitute in one brothel on Kadiri Street, within Alausa, told our correspondent that most of her colleagues had gone to other areas of the state like Allen Avenue, Toyin Street and Obafemi Awolowo Way, all within Ikeja, where they thought they could get more patrons.
“The brothel owners do not understand that our customers have reduced seriously,” she said in pidgin English.
“Since they banned okada, we do not see men like before again,” she added.
According to her, before the ban, an average prostitute in the brothel made at least N3,000 per night an average of N21,000 weekly.
“With this money, we effectively paid our rent weekly, sent money home to our aged parents and children for those of us who have, and took care of ourselves.
“But it is no longer so. We have to go out now and compete with those on the streets for customers,” she lamented.
She however said she did not go out that night because she was in her menstrual cycle which usually lasted three days.
Eki, one of the prostitutes in a brothel at the ever-busy Ipodo end of Ikeja, said she did not go out that night because she wanted to take out time to ponder her next line of action.
The 27-year-old school drop-out from Edo State said she was becoming frustrated living in the brothel as the patronage had dropped in recent times.
“I am currently thinking of relocating. Many of my former colleagues now operate in parts of Ogun State and they say there is business there.
“I have made attempts to go to some streets at night to get patronage but the fear is that anything could happen to you.
“You could be arrested in a raid by government people. You can also be kidnapped by people who come as customers or even taken for ritual purposes.
“But in a brothel, the worst is to bribe the police when they come or even allow them sleep with you for free and you are allowed to continue your business,” she said.
She said since the ban on okada, she made between N1, 000 and N2, 000 against the N4,000 and N6,000 she made before the government action.
She hinted that some of the prostitutes in the state had started relocating to neighbouring areas like Mowe, Ibafo and Sango-Ota in Ogun State.
At another brothel at Ipodo, the prostitutes there confirmed that business had reduced as they no longer make as much as they did before the ban on okada.
One of the prostitutes who later gave her name as Daniella, told NE after two bottles of beer that the okada ban had affected them as many of their customers are commercial motorcyclists.
“This is where they came to ease their stress and we made good money.
“You know many of the okada riders do not have houses, so with this place, many of them spend the night happy sleeping in our rooms for a token and making us perform ‘extra-services’ for them at the agreed amount.
“Though we are still patronised, it is not like what it used to be,” the 29-year-old lady from Benue complained.
Asked if she was not thinking of marriage, she retorted: “Tell me you want to marry me now, now and I will quit. Na money I dey find and once you say you go fit take care of me, I go follow you go house right now.”
A commercial sex worker, Juliana, said she had come to stand by the road in that area since she recently discovered that customers to the brothel she operates located close to the Akiyode Bus Stop on Ojodu Road had reduced drastically.
“Before now, we always stayed in our brothel and got customers, but since they have reduced, me and my friends have decided to go all out in search for them. Man must eat now!” she said.
She said that she would accept N1,000 for short-time and that if it is throughout the night, she would collect N4,000 on the condition that she and the customer would make use of her brothel room.
“If it is short-time, you can do it around any dark area here. It doesn’t take long now; 15 minutes and you are done.
“But if it throughout the night, I won’t follow you home sha! We will go to my room and have it,” she said, adding that she was scared of a stranger to his home.
On Allen Avenue, the price varies between N1, 000 and N3, 000 for short-time depending on how the prostitute views the customers
However, it gets ridiculously cheap in the wee hours of the morning, when the number of men on the streets drops. Some of the girls can go for as low as N200 for short-time.
One of the sex hawkers, known as just Theresa and said she was a student of a polytechnic, she explained that for short-time, she and her colleagues just take their customers to dark corners or behind buildings “to have it done”.
“If the customer has a car, then better. We just enter his car, he parks and I service him.
“That’s why we wear skimpy skirts, most times with G-strings or nothing under, for easy access in the case of short-time.
“We do follow some customers home but most of us are now scared, especially at this period when we believe there are more ritualists in town.”
Competition for customers has increased for these girls and they blame most of it on the ban.
Many of them say they are now forced to move to the streets and be at risk at night in desperate search for patrons instead of staying within the brothels for the customers.