Lagos reads riot act to Okada riders, others
Lagos State government on Thursday read the riot act to commercial motorcyclists, popularly called okada riders, following repeated clashes between them and the State Taskforce officials, declaring that the game is over as restriction of okada on certain routes in the state is still in force.
The State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, made this known during a press conference at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa Ikeja, insisting that failure with the law would attract sanctions as stipulated in the Transport Sector Reform Law (TSRL) 2018.
The event was attended by members of the National Union of Road Transport Association Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association (RTEAN), Motorcycle Operators Association Lagos State (MOALS) and Nagari Nakowa Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association of Lagos (NNMORA).
“I say the game is over because, in the last few months, we have witnessed a lot of security and safety challenges apparently as a result of the activities of unscrupulous ‘okada riders who do not only violate the provisions of the Transport Sector Reform Law of Lagos State, 2018 with respect to restriction to areas of operations but perpetrate crimes using their motorcycles,” the commissioner said.
Oladeinde expressed displeasure over the flagrant violation of the TSRL 2018, explaining that the state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was poised at ensuring better traffic flow, adding that it was disheartening for people to go against the law.
The commissioner, while reiterating that the restriction of okada on certain routes in the state still remains in force, warned that “any motorist caught against traffic would pay the maximum penalty, which is to have their vehicles impounded, and forfeited in line with TSRL 2018, while the drivers will be equally charged to the court of law.”
Oladeinde said the state government was resolved to intensify its enforcement strategy, following the upsurge in the number of commercial motorcycle operators in Lagos, disclosing that a joint enforcement team would be set up to ensure the roads were sanitised from the menace of Okada riders.
He said the state government had directed that all the law enforcement agencies including the police, FRSC, LASTMA and VIS officials to immediately and continuously embark on enforcement on all the restricted routes in Lagos.
“We hereby direct all the law enforcement agencies, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS), Task Force and the Nigeria Police to immediately and continuously embark on enforcement of all restricted routes,” he said.
“In line with this administration’s plan to build Lagos that works for all, we are determined to continue to engage with the various transport unions and associations of tricycles and okada operators to ensure their members cooperate with us in the process of ensuring public safety by abiding with the TSRL 2018 at all time,” he added.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Hon. Oluwatoyin Fayinka also warned the transporters to desist from violating the State traffic law, even as he said he would not be happy seeing their businesses disrupted but were mandatory for everyone to obey the rules.
“I will not be happy seeing your businesses disrupted but it is mandatory for every one of us to obey the rules.
“You have been mandated to obey the law, the law is blind and does not know the maker, it does not know the enforcer. We want all to obey the law,” he said.
Fayayinka, while lamenting that attitude of the bad ones amongst them had given the state, which is regarded as the commercial nerve centre of the country, a poor image abroad, charged them to fish out those elements amongst them.
“NURTW and RTEAN, that is why you must go back to your people and talk to them. I beg of you, let’s play the game according to rule. Please I beg of you I don’t want your business to be disrupted, and Mr Governor doesn’t want your okadas impounded,” he said.
“Police are not happy arresting you so far you do your business in accordance to the law,” he added.
General Manager Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr Olajide Oduyoye wondered why the leadership of the union usually look decent and cooperative but same cannot be said of their members.
Oduyoye charged the leadership to talk sense to their members to comply to the law as regards the traffic, saying if the leaders truly worked to ensure for sanity on the roads, the security agencies would have little or nothing to be bothered about.
“There is absolutely nothing new in what we have been talking about here that we have not spoken about in past conferences.
“You are the ones on the roads, can you not enforce the law? You can make the state work. If you don’t free the road, you can’t make your money, going and coming. If you want the road to be free, you can do it,” he said.
The Sector Commander of Federal Road Service Commission (FRSC), Segun Ogungbemile, while noting that majority of the okada riders were not members of the registered unions in the state, pleaded that NURTW and RTEAN should collaborate with all the law enforcement agencies to enforce the traffic laws in Lagos.
“They know we are incapacitated but when they see you with us, they will know we are one, that’s what I am soliciting for,” he said.
The State Police Commissioner, who was represented by SP Ozoani Damsus, noted that okada riders in the state had gone far more than could be accepted, warning that violators of traffic law would not escape facing the music.
“The okada riders have gone far more than we can accept. Any okada man that violates the law, we will not accept that anymore.
“The commissioner of police has said that we must accept the rule. We are fully back, we are not going to tolerate the act of indiscipline. I don’t want to repeat what my colleagues have said, a word is enough for the wise.
A representative of the Lagos State Task Force, Supol Ogar, said the agency was resolved in enforcing the state traffic laws banning okada on restricted routes in Lagos.