Okada ban: Doherty faults LASG on wrong policy approach
- decision taken in good faith-Hon Adewale
- Gov Sanwo-Olu acted within legal confines – Akande
By Olanrewaju Adesanya
Stakeholders in the Lagos project have greeted the pronouncement of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu restricting Motorbikes,tricycles and other e-commerce okada ventures on certain number of roads and 40 bridges with knocks and condemnation.
The governor barely resuscitated an existing law with a proviso afforded in the transport law of August 2012 and the reform transport law of 2018,though with some modifications,thus proscribing the three wheelers and motorbikes in specific areas across six Local Governments and nine Local Council Development Areas;Apapa-Iganmu,Yaba,Itire-Ikate,Coker-Aguda,Onigbongbo,Ojodu,Ikoyi-Obalende,Iru-Victoria Island and Lagos-Island East and forty bridges.
The ban or restrictions which takes effect from the early hours of the first day in the month of February, witness lots of twist as certain areas where the pronouncement did not state had a semblance of enforcement.
Hapless riders were apprehended and the conveyor seized by enforcement officers, Ifako Ijaiye was not spared as it was rather mistaken for Coker Aguda in Surulere area of Lagos as stated by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr Gbenga Omotosho, bringing to question the good grasp of the policy statement by the enforcers.
Movement of commuters were greatly hampered and the hassle for Monday traffic cum work travels can only be imagined.
Hon. Victor Akande,the Chairman House Committee Judiciary,Human Right,Public Petition & LASIEC, who doubles as a legal expert in a clear take on the policy statement,notes that the existing laws of the land entrust the security of lives and properties of Lagosians and other residents in the hands of Mr Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and that light whatsoever he does to ensure this will be in good faith and in tandem with the law.
He also notes that the reform transport law 2018 was clear about the fact that the envisaged mega/smart city status targeted by the state has no place for Okada and tricycles as means of transportation.
“Laws are made and it is not stagnant they are made to meet the yearnings of people and their standard of living at a particular time.
“To meet the specification of living in tune with the socio-economic situation,when laws are made, it depends on the situation of that time and as time goes on human population and activities increases,development comes around then the government policy change just as in the case of mega city to smart city.
“When you go to countries that really met the standards of a mega or smart city you cannot see bikes on the major roads.
The modes of transportation that is allowed in mega and smart city;you see carbs,well tailored,well registered and well controlled,you see buses that are numbered,registered and controlled even within the cities,nobody is sitting on top of the trains,so these are the specification of a mega city and smart city.
For the mere fact that the government as at that time while making that law decided that okay even where we want to allow Okada not just any form but a specific type. It is a kind of reaction that okay we don’t want this kind of motorbike,that is the import of specifying 200cc brand of bikes to play our roads.
Thereby restricting any tom dick and harry kind of motorbike to ply our road, the government only try to standardize and ward off the idea of the country being a dumping ground.
The law still stands that this specific type of bike can ply this and that roads,but in a situation where the governor or government of the day sees that how do we reduce accidents and insecurity to the best of my knowledge they use the motor bike to perpetrate so many crimes,rituals cases,armed robbery and all forms of nefarious activities as it is a means for quick escape, so the government now thought it wise that since this thing is fast becoming a snag and it is necessary to reduce the number of accidents on our roads consequently safing lives and properties, the governor has the power as the chief security officer of the state to make a pronouncement that to ensure the protection of lives and property we don’t want okada and it remains so.
“Once it is made in tandem with the situation or policy of government in line with constitutional provisions then it stands,whether a law is in force or not,the sanctity of peoples lives and properties is afforded in the constitution and is legally in the Governor’s custody to activate in the state.
Some times ago they we were instructed to use helmet but most of them don’t comply,even when the franchise was given to some people in order to control the nefarious activities of the motorbike riders,still bad element or unscrupulous elements still infiltrate the e-commerce platforms such as Gokada,Opay and what have you and at the end of the day reminiscent of what obtains in the uber scheme,when some fake people penetrated and perpetrated heinous crimes ranging from ritual killings and more,so at one point or the other to curb this happenstance government must make pronouncements. Thereby bringing about stability in the sector.
Honourable Temitope Adewale, Chairman Lagos House of Assembly Committee on Transportation,representing Ifako Ijaiye constituency I,lays bare the situation as it stands urging Lagosians to be patient with the state government.
“First of all it would not come to me as a news or shock,if I am a part of the people that made the law and if this House made the law and passed the bill,I don’t think it is something that is going a be a news to me.
On August 2012 they passed a bill and the traffic law was made to ban motorcycles, I think it is very important to say this and to state clearly to the press that misinterpretation of what is said or read cannot lead to misconception of the law.
“If we are saying we are restricting in some particular areas; the CBD’s and some volatile areas of the state,we have not said we banned totally bikes on the roads,no bike has been taken or in the process of the operation have been taken so far,what we just say is there are some parts of this state we don’t want motorbikes as of the moment.
” So if the law was passed before and it worked very well then even in more stringent ways than now,we are saying let’s revisit the law because the last administration did not do much regarding the implementation of the law on transport sector and if his Excellency Babajide Sanwoolu has made it very clear that part of his agenda in the Themes programme is Transportation and traffic solutions then he means well for the state.
” It is not because he wants to witch hunt or he wants to get back at people or he wants to push people who voted him into office out of jobs no.
“He is trying to make Lagos state safer and better to attain the mega city status. Which is what we’ve all being looking for, I got series of text messages regarding this law and like I said that I wasn’t interested in doing any interview because I am tired of it.
Piqued by the turn of event,the lawmaker Adewale hinted why the ban is necessary.
“The law is very simple,we are restricting them for these reasons;have you been to the general hospital lately or the orthopaedic hospital?
” You will weep,there are lot’s of innocent lives that have been destroyed by these riders,what we are saying is that it has to be properly regulated.
You cannot have people just come in from one place or the other or one state or country into Lagos because there is a free access or movement to live any where you want, they come in on Friday and pick up a bike on Monday.
“There are laws, you must have a riders tag,your bike must be properly registered; these laws have not been followed. The e-commerce industry, the likes of the Opay,Gokada,Max Okada and the rest of them,they are not registered.
Reacting to the claim that public officers in the execcutive arm have often been accused of deliberately relaxing laws when elections are close and that enforcement barely swings back to force when elections are over,Temitope notes that:
“The last administration went into the waste management body to infuse some few rapid changes,do test run and some few experiments regarding the environmental laws,which brought about the Vision Scape concept and it back fired,it didn’t work properly and we started witnessing what we saw as far back as 1998.
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” When we had dirt’s all over the place,we had refuse dumped in the middle of the roads,you don’t see them today they all gone and the LAWMA is working efficiently well that is because when laws are being put in place and there are stringent repercussions for breaking the law and there is proper enforcement it worked.
“So if the Governor Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu is looking into the transport law and made it clear from day one that his themes agenda has to do with transport and traffic solutions, then it is important for us to do it.
” If the last government have made it easy by restricting LASTMA from doing their duties and taking off the powers that allows them to operate and arrest and then we had more traffic situations and you will realise that the past administration could not really do much about infrastructural maintenance.
“Yes they had a little bit of infrastructural development but then the ones that we had on ground,there were so much infrastructural decay and this Babajide Sanwoolu’s government have taken into consideration that all infrastructures most especially roads must be put in place and the snags we witness now is tied to void of road maintenance in time past.
“There are so much we got to do on the roads at the same time, because the yearnings of the people have gotten to the Governor.
“I also enjoy taking bikes but not without safety, sometimes I want to get to where I am going faster,a times I am tired of staying in the car,sometimes I am going on inner roads that are not quite good,yet to be fixed by the government.
“Sometimes there is heavy traffic,a times there is so much traffic because we are fixing roads daily but this are the little things that we have to bear with as the people, nobody create traffic,we create it -traffic jam is caused by human and vehicular movements, who are those behind the vehicular movements, it is we.
“You see when we are about to start something, the moment it favours people in terms of test run,they run away with it there are laws of this land.
“There is a transport sector law,there is transport reform law,there are laws that would enable you to start businesses within the state,when you want to test the waters just like you had the ‘Uber’, Uber came and ran on our water ways as a test run,now they are in the process of getting approval and it worked.
“It is the same Governor that said he is going to work with all these branded organizations of motorbikes,was the same one that said he is gonna be working with them,the gokada,gomax,opay all went to him and he was impressed, look it is a welcome idea it is an integral part of the transportation system.
” I have read in many places,I have seen people commenting there are bikes in Singapore, yes Singapore is a country not a state, there are bikes in Kano and Kaduna so if we insist we don’t want bikes in particular local governments for now.
“It is because we are trying to regulate it,there are bikes that would run only strictly within gated estates they are not banned.
“There are bikes that would run inner roads they are not banned,restriction means we don’t want you here at all until things are being perfected,perfect the law,perfect your documentations and then we give you rules and regulations to abide by.
“Nobody is taking out the bikes, we are restricting and they are saying that a lot of people would lose their jobs,no they won’t lose their jobs,nobody is taking away their bikes from them,just change your routes from now and then you meet up with the standards of what you are expected to do.
“The restrictions are opened to how you operate in those areas, in UK there are areas referred to as green zones,there are areas where you can’t even go,there is tax charges on this area and you know with what the government is working towards the ITS -Integrated Transport System.
“I will appeal to lagosians to please be patient and trust for once the process of getting things done for the Lagos State Government.
“I am not the Commissioner for transportation,I wouldn’t speak for the ministry of transportation, I would speak in capacity as honourable member making laws to soothe the people and their everyday needs.
“I represent the people,I would speak to the Governor and the Commissioner, what I am saying to you is that this decision is taken in good faith to achieve a better and a greater transport sector.
“What are bikes doing on highways ad bridges? The heavily populated major roads with speed limits,the people actually do that everyday,have they been banned on inner roads?
“You come out of your house pick a bike to the nearest bus stop,buses are waiting for you there,that is the situation it has always been,when you leave your house without a car in the streets,I stay in Ifako Ijaiye and like I said I enjoyed taking bikes, because there are distances I can’t walk.
“I take a bike from my house to the nearest bus stop,sometimes I can fly a bike from Iju to Ogba.
” I went through the road,yes it is part of the roads I have been plying,but because I felt I need to get to where I am going faster or the ease of me not having to queue at the bus stop,then I take a bike but readily available for us are buses.
“I am not trying to defend the government at the same time the people, I am just saying the truth the way it is,what I am saying in essence is that,if I am supposed to get to an appointment by two o’clock and I know the transport structure and understand how it works why would I want to leave 1:30?When I can leave by 12:30?
“Now the human factor also comes to play here,you see the saying that goes better late than never does it make any sense to you?
“So if I am supposed to get to somewhere 2pm and the same time factor you leave 12o’clock, by the time I walk fifteen minutes to the bus stop, I would use another fifteen minutes to get me there then I move,bearing in mind the travel time plus or minus traffic.
“What we are saying is that without the bikes before we were living and doing fine,we never get late,you will be so surprised that some of this traffic situations caused on our trunk A roads is caused by bikes,hit one bike man using one way,risking the lives of you passengers and you mistakenly hit him,you being on your lane;mob action.
“They’ve beat the LASTMA officials of which I am one,they beat traffic officers cause mayhem,because they are not properly regulated,until the regulation is done we will continue to have restricted on the roads that are very volatile and that is the situation at the moment.
He also noted that the state legislature has good networking with the executive in bringing about a functional transport system.
I am very excited because I know the Governor have a dream and I am aware the Rite Honourable Speaker,Rt Hon. Doctor Mudashiru Obasa has been on the front burner and fighting for the transport solutions,I remember many times has he mentioned on the floor of the house the need for us to invest in our water ways and he is in tandem and in line with the dreams and the future of Lagos State to achieve that status of a mega city,now we have five lines for the rail system with blue line has been in process but was abandoned for over four years by the past administrations now been effectively put into place and been fully funded and is moving in pace, we have the red line which was done by the federal government and we are doing track sharing,which will terminate at three to five points,we have a number of buses that we have injected into the system (BRT buses) ,we have new corridors been opened and ready to be run in place,the governor just approved 48 boats that would be plying our routes and I can tell you for a fact that all the jetties that will in Lagos state have link roads all budgeted for,roads that lead to the jetty,that leads to the bus stops that is called integrated transport system,where you come down from the boats,you have the bus that would take you to the next bus stop and you can connect the train,it is doable it is just a matter of time.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Lagos State Chairman, Mr Adedeji Doherty in a chat with National Daily yesterday notes that the okada idea is more like a social adjustment or reaction to a dysfunctional or deficient transport sector which really requires management and control measures rather than ban.
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“The ban is a reaction to Okada menace but what we need is good management, not outright ban or restriction of riders, what you are supposed to put in place is management and control.
“They ought to have create lanes for tricycles and Okada,because they are basically social reaction to the obvious deficiency in Lagos state’s transportation system, some people want to get to work early but a journey of thirty minutes ended up becoming that of several hours later than when they ought to get to the place of work.
“This led to the occupation which has now turned to security risk beyond what they can handle,that informs the ban,what do we do?
“Not to ban but to create their own lane,put in control measures,meaning not any person can pick up Okada and start riding or join organize Okada platforms,once that is in place with a control measure things would normalize.
“You cannot stop a social reaction, flouting will come up,it will not go down well with some of them as Okada remains their means of livelihood, or a ploy for Hausa,Fulani exodus,the ban is not an escape route,let there be control,license some companies give stringent measure regulations to comply with.
“In Britain and America there are no Okada, China allowed it, only when moving around is seamless,provide enough buses,ensure there are no go slow,build enough bridges in the mainland, when there are not toilets human beings tend to littering the place,if the imbalance subsists till 2025,a particular projection states that Lagos State population would be higher than 22million,what is this government doing to create a social infrastructure? Noting in forms of go slow,traffic if they fail to something by 2025,you will see what Lagos will look like.
Prince Adelaja Adeoye, Action Democratic Party National Publicity Secretary in a release on the matter supported the policy but calls for moderation to accommodate legitimate e-commerce platforms like the Gokada and Opay whose activities are well streamlined for security.
Sanitizing Lagos State and getting rid of these lawless miscreants that have been invading Lagos in droves for many years is a welcome development and good step in the right direction.
Many of them hide under the pretense of riding Okada and Keke during the day, while they strategically distribute themselves in inner and exterior parts of Lagos State committing all manners of crimes and untold hardship on residents.
Security of lives and properties in any part of Nigeria is a business of all citizens of Nigeria, so, undocumented invaders, should not be allowed in any part of the country, as there is serious need for vigilance due to the growing rate of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, thuggery, mindless killings and other criminal activities.
Many of these guys are invaders, who must be checked and be sent back to wherever they came from. At least, on two occasions, they have shown their true colors, when they went to attack Ejigbo police Station in Oshodi Isolo, around 11pm at night, which caused panic in the area. At another time, they went to attack a local government, because a task force official of the local council demanded for the normal levy, which they refused to pay, hence their bike got confisticated, instead of following lawful ways to get the issue resolved, they resulted to lawless act by setting the local government council on fire. This is brutal, crude, mindless, and must be stopped.
We cannot afford to open our eyes, while these aliens take over the entire Lagos, because if not quickly arrested, we wont all be able to sleep, as another type of insurgents might spring up, and will be troubling everyone of us in the State.
When our lives is threatened by invaders, we must learn to eschew politics of bitterness and stand by the truth.
I know the importance of Okada and Keke in the lives of an average Lagosians, especially those who don’t have a car or means of transportation for themselves. This ban, I believe will be looked into by the government soon, in an effort to get those who are not lawless back to their jobs.
All cities and mega cities across the world have all forms of transportation, including bikes, so, Lagos people cannot be shut out in this regard but the bad eggs making the business a threat to the State MUST be weeded out.
Here is my special appeal to Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, because of the law abiding people, who are not aliens or invaders in Lagos, whose source of living is the money made from transporting people from one place to the other, using their Okadas and Keke.
I appeal that the law on the ban should be reviewed. Government can put in place a more effective system that will help to check these invaders who are making the business to look bad for legitimate people.
The government can partner with structured bike hiking companies like Opay, Gokada, Max Okada and others, who have invested millions of dollars into this business. They will surely follow guidelines on safety and won’t be wreckless, unlike the uncivilized invaders who want to dominate the State, with their unruly and barbaric attitudes.
Good governance is all about the people, and as such, both the rich and the poor must be catered for, as most Lagosians, especially the employees, middle class, traders, artisans, low income earners and others who relies on Okada, Keke and other fast means of transportation to connect to their place of work and businesses will be badly hurt, if they can no longer access this form of transportation.
Finally, the governor should show compassion and empathy to the innocent and law abiding okada and Keke riders in Lagos.
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