Records relative calm  on most roads

 

Abiodun OBA

 

 

Lagos State Government has emphasised that the ban on commercial motorcycles, also known as Okada, in six Local Government Areas and nine Local Council Development Areas, LGAs/LCDAs of the state was taken to ensure the security and safety of residents.

State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, made the remarks on Wednesday while speaking on the development during a television programme.

While urging operators and residents to fully comply with the order, government appealed to residents to patronize alternative modes of transportation in the state.

The state government had on Wednesday, June 1, commenced full enforcement of the ban which recorded a high level of compliance across the metropolis.

According to him: “During the first quarter of this year, the record shows that over 1,712 accidents were recorded, with okada constituting 767 or 45 per cent of them.

“Of all the victims, 54 per cent are between 30 and 39 years old; our young people.”

He reiterated that during the meeting with Divisional Police Officers, DPOs, Area Commanders and the Commissioner of Police, Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu handed down the explicit instruction of ensuring effective enforcement of the ban.

Giving details about plans for an effective clampdown on okada, the Commissioner said: “I want to assure Lagosians that the security agents will do the right thing when enforcing the ban and carry out the exercise in a professional manner because the ban is people-driven.

“The local governments are involved; community development associations are involved; everyone is involved in taking back our state from the tyranny of okada.”

On alternatives to okada, Omotoso said the state government launched over 500 First and Last Mile buses while 200 have been rolled out in the last weeks to serve as an alternative to okada.

“The State Government is doing a lot in transportation, which is the first pillar of the administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda. 15; jetties are under construction and some of them are at 90 per cent completion stage.

“Some in areas like Apapa, Liverpool, Ijede, Ilashe, Ajido, Ebute-Ero, Mile Two and others are being completed.

“In the last three years, LAGFERRY has been operating with no single record of accident; so, Lagosians are encouraged to use these alternatives to ensure the safety of all,” he stated.

He expressed optimism that by the end of 2022, the Red and Blue rail lines will be completed and commercial activities will begin first quarter of next year to complement road and water transportation.

“The Lagos Traffic Law of 2012, reviewed in 2018, says that Okada and tricycle must not be found on major highways, major roads and bridges in any part of Lagos; so no one should feign ignorance,” Omotoso said.

Meanwhile, as the enforcement on the ban on commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada, took effect in some parts of the state, relative calm was witnessed on most of the roads.

The enforcement in some of the prohibited routes between the hours of 7am and 2pm revealed 99 per cent compliance within the period.

In some of the places visited, some road users expressed satisfaction at the level of the compliance which they said had minimised traffic jam in the areas.

However, some of them expressed fear that the ban may not be sustained by the government.

From Ikorodu/Mile 12 down to Ketu, Ojota to Oshodi, residents applauded the enforcement as the riders have vacated the major routes,

Although Ikorodu is not part of the  six local governments and their councils where the ban was effected but some leaders of commercial motorcycles operators in the area said they have taken it upon themselves to effects the ban on major roads especially from Garage to Ogolonto, and Mile 12 due to public outcry.

Some of the leaders were seen collaborating with local security personnel to enforce the ban.

Total compliance was recorded from Anthony on Ikorodu Road to Fadeyi as well as Oshodi, Ikeja-Along to Dopemu Under bridge on Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway where the riders were completely out of sight.

Reports from Ikoyi to Third Mainland Bridge down to Gbagada and  Iyana-Ipaja to  Abule-Egba, Ijaiye, Ahmadiya, Kola, Mosalasi down to Toll Gate, Durban Bus Stop, Festac First Gate, Second Gate, Mile 2 Expressway to Abule-Ado were impressive in the course of this report.

Throughout the monitoring by Vanguard, different teams of law enforcement operatives were sighted patrolling the areas.

Same was witnessed from Oshodi to Mile 2 especially Second Rainbow and Mile 2 which were usually seen as the hub of commercial motorcycle operators in the axis.

Although many residents and road users lauded the ban but few people said it led to trekking of long distances especially in areas where road rehabilitation or construction was ongoing.

At Dopemu Under bridge, an entrepreneur Mr Adebola Adio said though he daily patronises Okada from Sango\Tollgate to Iyana-Dopemu in order to beat traffic  but said he will adjust to the ban this time around. ‘’To be late is better than to be sorry. Not that I am satisfied with the patronage but that is the only option I have to keep my job. We all know the level of traffic jam on Lagos\Abeokuta Expressway, please, help tell the government to ensure that the road is always free,’’ he said.

At Oshodi-Isale, a public servant Andrew Osinuga urged the state government to sustain the enforcement so that Lagos can retain her position as the Center of Excellence, ‘’I have never supported Okada operations in this state and I blame the government for tolerating their menace for so long. I hope what we are witnessing today will be sustained.’’

Another respondent, Chukwuemeka Godwin said he has made up his mind to patronizing Okada on major roads, ‘’I made the resolution today and will never return to it. Look, we are not doing ourselves any favour by patronizing Okada and can do without them as far as I am concerned.’’

At some of the places visited, some riders were seen violating the law although investigation revealed that this was in collaboration with some unscrupulous element among security personnel who have devised various means to interrupt the enforcement.

For instance, it was learnt that the unscrupulous element have issued a code called ‘Baba TP’ or TP which full interpretations mean, ‘’Baba Task Force’’ or ‘’Task Force’’ to the erring motorcycle operators to prevent them from being arrested by law enforcement operatives.

Investigations revealed that some motorcycle operators have the code boldly written on their jackets or motorcycles so that they can easily be noticed by any enforcement team.

With the code, the riders are expected to remit a weekly or monthly sum to the coffers of these collaborators who will reciprocate by using their connections to bail the motorcycles in case they are impounded.

Investigations revealed that the amount to be remitted depends on the location and hours of operations depending on the agreement reached with them.

It was learnt that some security personnel are already familiar with the codes which are expected to be mentioned upon the arrival of the enforcement team at any location particularly Lagos\Ibadan Expressway.

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