The Lagos State Government has said the ongoing enforcement of restrictions on the operations of commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada, in certain parts of the state is a necessary step to save lives, improve security and curb their indiscipline.
There had been growing tension over the ban of Okada in Surulere, Eti Osa, Ikeja, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island and Apapa by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
But the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, while speaking on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily about the new enforcement order given by the governor Babajide and the backlash recorded in a part of the state, said the resurgence of Okada operations and acts of indiscipline being exhibited by riders had become a serious source of concern as many people had lost their limbs and lives through Okada accidents.
“Our doctors are complaining that more and more people are coming with Okada-related emergencies. About 1,712 accidents have been recorded in Lagos in the first quarter of this year. Out of this figure, about 45 percent; to be precise, 767 of the accidents were caused by Okada. And it is shocking to know that about 54 percent of the victims are between the ages of 30 and 39. These are our able-bodied young people who are getting cut down like that all because they mounted okada.
“There is a law that lists all the routes commercial motorcycles are restricted from plying. The law is still there; it has not been repealed. So, the enforcement is not new and it is going to continue as the June 1st deadline stands.
“Lagosians are worried about the mystery of Okada; they don’t know where they come from; the riders are unknown. They don’t even have number plates. They don’t come for LASRRA registration, so we can’t account for them,” he said.
He added, “The goal is to have a Lagos without motorcycles because there is no megacity in the world where you go to and find this kind of mode of transportation.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi, has said the police are ready to contend with any security challenges that could emerge from the recent ban on Okada.
He also confirmed the arrest of no fewer than 35 motorcyclists and the seizure of 195 motorcycles during the ongoing enforcement of the state government ban on motorcycle operations in the state.
Addressing journalists at the command’s headquarters in Ikeja on Friday, Alabi said the police had commenced preparations to tackle motorcyclists who may want to migrate to other areas of the state to continue their trade.
He noted that the ban was in phases, adding that strategic measures were being developed to subdue any challenge that could arise from the implementation of the ban.
Speaking on the clash along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway on Thursday, Alabi said, “During the operation, they (motorcyclists) were accosted, and when they were accosted, they became violent and mobilised their other colleagues to attack our police officers.
“When we got this information, we had to mobilise our tactical and operational commanders to reinforce our policemen on the ground and they (motorcyclists) were subdued. In the course of doing that, we arrested 35 suspects and impounded 195 motorcycles. Normalcy was restored immediately.”
Reacting to questions on the aftereffect of the ban, and its implication on other areas in the state, Alabi said efforts were ongoing to tackle any attendant consequences induced by the ban.
He added, “Any security challenges that could arise because of this ban in the local government areas, we are ready to contend with them. We have told them to put in place strategic measures on how to confront this holistically. We are envisaging that some people (motorcyclists) will migrate from those areas but this ban is in phases, and we are prepared for that and will confront the challenge if it arises.”