In the month of May 2022, the executive governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced the ban of commercial motorcycles popularly called “Okada” in six local government areas of Lagos.
Standing on the effects which have led to the loss of lives on a daily basis through incessant accidents, he said that “This ban has come to stay and we will not tolerate any weakness in enforcement.”
Following the announcement, multiple bikes have been seized from riders who have failed to comply, leaving them without options for survival.
Reacting to this development, Samson Ogbeiie, one of the okada riders in Ekiti State, condemned the action of the Lagos state government, noting that situations like these would not have occurred if there was a healthy relationship between the government and the citizens.
He said: “Countless numbers of bike riders are graduates, but there is no job employment. And they need to eat something, and they don’t want any bad records with their names.”
Not appreciating the reasons for the ban, Mr Samson advised the victims whose bikes were seized in Lagos to cooperate with the Riders’ Association in order to “know the way forward.”
Florence Bodex Hungbo, who is a serial entrepreneur, tweeted on her Twitter handle about the excitement she had due to the freedom from the fear of hitting a bike man while driving in Lagos.
“It looks as if they are packed dirty from Lagos,” she said.
Moruwawon Pelumi, a nursing student at Ekiti State University (EKSU) emphasised that the ban should not have been made because job replacements were not provided for the riders.
“Most of them (the riders) make use of the bike as their only source of income, and they have families to take care of. Even if the government were to ban the use of bikes, they would do it by taking the consent of the public because, in Lagos, bikes are the easiest means of transportation due to traffic issues and bad roads and providing another source of income for bike riders.”
She sympathised with the victims and advised them to “trust God to make a way for them, either by providing another job for them or lifting the ban on okada.”
Unlike Pelumi and Samson, another commercial motorcyclist in Ekiti known as Ajayi Babatunde urged the affected riders to be law-abiding.
“Always follow any laid down rules by the government because it was stated that the Lagos State riders shouldn’t go to certain streets in the state,” he said.
In agreement with the ban, he noted that the bike riders association has not been “effective in doing something which I thought was the riders’ right, like taking care of any bike man who is involved in an accident.”
However, he prayed that “God will provide new opportunities for them and they will be strengthened.”
A Lagosian popularly known as Zikel voiced his opinion on the okada restriction on Twitter, saying: “The ban will reduce the crime rate on roads, traffic gridlock and unwanted accidents.” He buttressed his point by referring to the bike ban that the former governor of Lagos, Raji Fashola, pronounced during his tenure as it led to the reduction in the rate of crime and accidents in the state.
“The okada riders should pitch their bike business to areas where the ban is not,” he said.
Adeoti Isaiah Adebowale is a teacher, a digital marketer, and a graphic designer who also lives in Lagos State. He spoke about the different problems bike riders caused on roads, saying: “Untrained bike man brought accident a lot on daily basis, most of the bike man increase every day. Many of them get the bike at higher purchase and after working they pay the money at a stipulated time to the owner of the bike.”
He went on to say: “Okada riders believe they can pass where humans can pass also, which has increased accidents in Lagos State.”
“The ban within six local government areas is a check on Lagos State, whether the Okada Riders will be completely banned or not and of course, the aftermath of the ban could increase hoodlums, bandits and pickpocketing.
On the other hand, Bala Samson, a General Executive Member of the Okada Riders’ Association, Olota Branch, Ado Ekiti condemned the development, saying that it could never happen in Ekiti State.
“At the moment the government isn’t ready to pass such a law into a bill in Ekiti State, because there’s a cordial relationship between the Riders Association and the government.
“In Lagos State, six local governments are strict on bikers. That place is clearly different from Ekiti State. It can’t happen here. The main thing we need is better security. Yes, the state government is trying, but let them do more in terms of security,” he said.
“Okadas” are one of the primary modes of transportation in Nigeria and constitute a cheap and adaptable transportation system.
Aside from its ability to beat traffic jams, it serves as a major source of income for many Nigerian graduates, who lack white-collar jobs.
Inside UNILAG: A Tale of Rising Fees, Sinking Hopes, Caught in a Web of Dreams
While in 2021, 33% of Nigeria’s population was unemployed, World Bank projections reveal that the onset of 2022 pushed an…
Campus Reporter, CJID, Trains 52 UDUS Students On Evidence-based Reporting
Campus Reporter, a journalism project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), trained 52 Campus Journalists and Mass…