Group asks Sanwo-Olu to lift okada ban, says residents are groaning in pain

February 12, 2020
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The Federation of Informal Workers’ Organisations of Nigeria (FIWON) has asked the Lagos state government to review the ban on okada, saying residents are now forced to trek long distances. 

The ban on okada and tricycle in 15 local councils became effective on February 1, and despite protests from some quarters, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, has insisted that his government will sustain the restriction.

Reacting at a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday, Gbenga Komolafe, general secretary of FIWON, said extending the ban especially to inner roads was ill thought. 

“While we admit to the reality of the fact that okada are easily prone to fatal accidents on highways, we hasten to add that allowing okada on these major highways is a failure of regulation on the part of law enforcement agencies saddled with the responsibility of road traffic management in Lagos,” he said.   

“The motley crowds of traffic police, LASTMA and Federal Road Safety officials on these roads simply ignore to control and restrain okada and indeed other commercial public transport operators and commercial drivers on these roads.

“Apart from the fact that the Keke Marwa has not been known to ply highways, extending the ban to inner roads and neighbourhood transport routes is whimsical and ill thought out. Even in highbrow gated communities such as Omole Estate and Ikeja GRA, residents, who have all the leverage to restrict Keke Marwa from entering their gates into the communities, allow them because they are aware that not all the residents are car owners. 

“Now residents of these estates and hundreds of other out of the way neighbourhoods across the local governments are groaning in pains as they are forced to trek impossible distances to the major roads where they can catch buses to their destinations. Not only that, many car owners who only make use of their cars occasionally, and who rely on okada and keke marwa to transport from their remote neighbourhoods and communities to major bus stops, are now forced to use their cars leaving most Lagos neighbourhood and major roads clogged with cars resulting in terrible traffic.” 

He asked the government to unveil transportation policy for input by informed members of the public.

Komolafe also described as wicked, the government’s eviction of some residents from water-front communities in Lagos. 

He said thousands of families have been rendered homeless following the government’s action.

“Scores of thousands of families have been rendered homeless by a government that swore to provide basic security for them. Not only have homes and ancestral landmarks and monuments been destroyed, thousands of livelihoods providing basic subsistence to the residents of these communities have also been destroyed at a time that so many Nigerians are suffering the consequences of mass unemployment. Thousands of children can longer go to school because their schools have been leveled, ” Komolafe said.

“The major reason given for this action is that residents of these communities have been engaged in illegal, criminal activities such as oil bunkering and vandalisation of NNPC pipelines.

“We find this excuse specious, if not outrightly wicked. How can so many communities including the elderly, women and children all be involved in bunkering? How many of these people have been arrested and prosecuted by law enforcement agencies, if this allegation were true? If indeed some residents of this community were involved in criminal activities, would the solution lie in wholesale destruction of their homesteads without any plan in place for resettlement and rehabilitation of innocent people including the elderly, women and children?” 

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