- Lagos has began a clampdown on Okada riders in the state in six local government areas beginning June 1
- Analysts are divided over the cost and security implications of the ban with some saying the state stands to lose as much as N4 billion everyday due to the ban
- Others said the ban was long over due because of the security challenges it poses in the state and the country as a whole
As Lagos state residents come to the reality of the new directives by the state government to clamp down on motorcycle riders, popularly called Okada, analysts have pegged the loss that will be incurred by the state government at N4 billion.
The state government has been in a running battle with the riders in the state over their unruly behaviour and flagrant disregard for traffic rules and other offences.
The beginning of the end?
In February 2020, the state government imposed a blanket ban on Okada and tricycle operators in 18 local government areas of the state, citing insecurity and other reasons for the ban.
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According to the statement announcing the ban, the operators have constituted themselves as a menace to the peace and security in the state and, therefore, need to be reined in before there is a complete breakdown of law and order.
Many months after the ban, the riders returned to the roads, this time with aggression, attacking the task force set up to arrest offending riders and, in many instances, killing security operatives in the process.
Riders go wild, clash with security agents
Vanguard reports that barely 24 hours after the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu placed a total ban on activities of commercial motorcyclists to reduce their wild behaviours in the state, riders went berserk on Thursday, May 19, 2022, along Lagos-Badagry Expressway, attacking policemen and motorists in the process.
The armed policemen in defence engaged the invading riders who are mainly Hausa extraction of the northern parts of Nigeria, and neighbouring countries.
The prelude to the ban was the death of a sound engineer in the Lekki area of Lagos who was to have been burnt to death by the riders in the area over a minor altercation.
It was reported that Okada riders were arrested over the death of the man identified as David Sunday.
Mixed reactions trail ban
The ban which takes effect on June 1, 2022, has been received with mixed reactions with some saying that the state government stand to lose as the riders constitute a substantial lot to the state economy. Others said the ban is necessary to curtail the looming security crisis that may envelop the state.
Kelechi Udenwa, a financial expert urged the government to weigh the pros and cons of the ban, especially as the state is notorious for crippling traffic.
He said the riders are veritable constituents of the state economy.
Udenwa who spoke with Legit.ng quoted 2019 data, saying that the Okada riders help facilitate movement in the state, thereby saving the state about N4 billion in the process.
“If they had thought the ban through, they would not just have just displaced the income sources of the riders but will lose about N4 billion daily due to the ban.
“People are always on the move in the state to catch up with one appointment or the other and if the appointments, most of which are financial, cannot be kept, they will result in a huge loss to individuals and, by extension, the state.”
A security expert, Magnus Onyishi in an interview with Legit.ng said that the ban was necessary considering the pervasive insecurity in the country, especially as the riders are not registered with the government.
“Just look at the Lekki incident. That would have been prevented if the state government was decisive in its plans, having banned them in 2020. Why did they relax the ban?
Okada ban: Lagos blames Ghana, Togo, others for high influx of motorcycles
Legit.ng reported that he Lagos state government State Environmental and Special Offences Enforcement Unit, (Task Force) said it destroyed no fewer than 11,820 motorcycles in 2021.
According to the Guardian newspaper, the chairman of the task force, CSP Shola Jejeloye said the unit will not relent in its quest to eliminate unruly commercial motorbikes in the state.
Jejeloye however revealed that despite a series of arrests and seizures of commercial motorbikes, there has been a rapid increase in commercial motorbikes in the state.