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Okada Ban in Lagos: What are the Real Issues?

The recent Okada ban in Lagos State on the sidelines of curbing criminality and insecurity has generated mixed reactions from Nigerians. However, providing infrastructure, proper filing, and reducing traffic congestion, need attention Justice Okamgba writes

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Okada ban in Lagos

In 2018, Peter Kalu, a 30-year-old man who is an active player in the logistics and supply chain, bought a bicycle. On many occasions, he rides from his residence in Festac down to the estate entrance gate. Then, board a bus that takes him to the office. On fewer occasions, he rides the bicycle to the office. 

“Lagos traffic is crazy, it is something I cannot deal with. Àside from using my bike to exercise, it’s easier for me to ride my anywhere,” he said in an interaction with TechEconomy. 

“Now that Lagos State Government has banned Okada, maybe people will start buying bicycles,” he said.””Lagos State Bans Okada”, has become trending news after Governor Sanwo-Olu announced that his government has placed a ban.”

The Okada ban will take effect from June 1st, 2022. This is not the first time Lagos State Government has come up with this idea. Former governors of the state – Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola, Akinwumi Ambode all placed bans during their various tenures. The implementation of has not being successful. 

TechEconomy gathered that three million Okada riders have trooped into Lagos since 2020. But, at the moment, residents are beginning to wonder if there will be total compliance with the governor’s directive after many failed attempts. 

Among the various reasons why Lagos State banned Okada, are ensuring the security of lives and properties, and reducing criminality.  The state also believes that large numbers of Okada riders are mostly non-residents. 

As a matter of urgency, when it was reported recently that one Sound Engineer was killed and burnt to death by some commercial motorcyclists (Okada rider) in the Lekki, during an argument over N100 additional payment. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu sat down in a roundtable meeting with relevant stakeholders to make the decision to ban Okada. 

The criminal activities carried out by Okada riders are mostly foreigners from Niger Republic, Chad, Cameroon, and other neighboring countries who have infiltrated the ranks of those genuine riders and are thereby perpetrating all forms of crime.

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”No persons shall ride, drive or propel a motorcycle or tricycle on a major highway within the state, and any person in contravention of this provision commits an offense” and would be made to face the wrath of the law,” said Gbenga Omotoso the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lagos. 

Is Banning Okada in Lagos the Right Step?

While it is understandable the rationale behind the banning of Okada in Lagos. Many Nigerians are still not convinced it’s the best route to follow in solving the security threats posed by Okada riders who are predominantly foreigners. 

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“We should stop putting the cart before the horse. When there are good motorable roads and less traffic congestion on Lagos roads, no one will see any reason to mount a bike,” said Aderonmu Adeola, ICT Expert at Funath Global Services.

Adeola posits that if the Lagos State government provides basic infrastructure like good roads, the number of Okada riders will reduce drastically. 

Tosin Akande a graduate of Osun State College of Education, said he isn’t totally against the ban, “but my stand is; what are the alternative means of helping Lagosian beat this daily crazy traffic congestion.”

Akande is also concerned about how Okada riders will cope after the full implementation of the ban from next month; what Okada riders will engage in to make ends meet, adding that being idle and not having a means of livelihood could be catastrophic.

Babatunde Adeniji, an Independent Business Consultant, wondered why the government can’t seem to develop a more creative approach to issues beyond bans. “It’s starting to feel like King Canute history may be repeating itself in Lagos.

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“He fears that until the people realize that governance should be a social welfare-focused service and not a master-versus slave affair, “we may continue to have this approach.”He said Okada serves a need due to failures or lack of proper infrastructure. A need can not be banned, can it?

Implications of Okada Ban in Lagos.

Unquestionably, a complete ban, just as it has been successful in Rivers State, will reduce the number of road accidents. 

Data from the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation reveal that motorcycles killed over 11,000 people in the state between 2011 and 2019. And at least 600 deaths between 2018 and 2019 are attributable to motorcycles.

Lagos State government is also confident that the incessant conflicts and criminality will record a significant decrease once the implementation kicks off. 

However, there are other pressing issues that remain hanging, such as traffic congestion, lack of infrastructure, scarcity in the availability of jobs, etc. 

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Lara Garuba, Founder of Young Lawyers Monitoring Club, said the news on Lagos State banning Okada is 50:50. 

She argued that although the menace of criminal elements exists among Okada riders, the cause needs to be nipped in the bud. However, questioned, what’s the alternate means of transportation for the poor masses?”

“I know we have a thinking governor, so I want to believe he has plans for a better replacement or a structured solution for riders and commuters.”Many Okada riders will be out of jobs which will affect their economic welfare. Unemployment is correlated to criminality.

There are fears that out-of-work persons will be tempted to get involved in crimes just to make ends meet. In reality, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is over 30 percent, but data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Labor Force Survey notes that Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 27% in Q2 2020. 

Garuba said if nothing is being planned, then, what the Lagos State government has done is to put the poor masses in serious jeopardy. “In a state, where a percentage of people still earn below ₦500 per day. Let’s not pour away the bathing water with the baby in it.”

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Key Factors Lagos State Should Consider

One of the actions the state needs to do is to fight insecurity in collaboration with the Federal government, especially in the north, Adeola suggested. 

“I know, the vast majority of these riders are not from Lagos, let the FG do the needful on insecurity in the north so our northern brethren can return to their homes,” he said. 

According to Benedict Ogundaye, Mentor and Researcher, a need (Okada) cannot be banned but can be planned for through proper profiling “With the rolling out of NIN and National ID shouldn’t it be easier to regularise without overbearing registration and renewal fees,” Ogundaye said.

He said Okada riders do not need a uniform except if it is a private fleet and they want to distinguish themselves. “But vehicle registration with fixed chip for remote capture, yes,” he added. 

A source who doesn’t want his name revealed that the required solution is to deal with their corrupt practices first. “Corruption of the law enforcement bodies makes nonsense of every new law or ban.

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“According to the source, after Babatunde Raji Fashola, a former governor of the state left office, law enforcement seemed like a joke. 

He said both Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the police have continually used the law to collect money from the people with total negligence of their primary responsibilities.

“LASTMA of today are known as corporate Agberos. Any commercial bus you see them arrest with the stiff existing laws are those that have now paid their dues,” he said. 

Justice Okamgba functions as CONTENT STRATEGIST for TechEconomy.ng with penchant for content planning, development, analysis, management, and measurement. Contact: [email protected]

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