That Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has gone ahead to implement the restrictions or as some people call it, ban of the movement of commercial motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (Keke Marwa) is no news.
The decision was met with criticism and condemnation of the government by several residents of the state owing to what they perceive as the inconveniences the policy or the decision would cause.
But beyond the inconveniences and disadvantages of the policy, it is necessary to trace the genesis of the restrictions and what it portends to the residents of the metropolitan city on the long run.
It should be recalled that the restriction/ban of Okada operations as recently announced by the Lagos State Government is not a new policy.
The Policy predates the current government as it took off in 2012 during the tenure of former governor Babatunde Raji Fashola.
What the Sanwo-Olu Government did was just to effect the policy, which was neglected by the government of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode from 2015 to May, 2019.
Going down memory lane, in March 2012, about eight (8) years ago, Governor Fashola announced a total ban of Okada from all major bridges and the whole of Ikeja.
This ban was instigated by the Nigeria Police, who had been hapless from the incessant rise in crime in the highly populated state.
Three months later, it was extended to parts of Surulere and Lagos Island. Specifically the Business district, parts of Victoria Island and Falomo, Ikoyi.
For the other areas, government decided to regulate Okada riders and came up with a licensing scheme which stipulated that Okada riders needed to learn how to ride bikes and must obtain a riders licence (As is applicable in most countries).
This they did in partnership with the FRSC. This scheme was ignored totally.
As a matter of fact the two main Okada unions took the government to court over this.
The FRSC ended confiscating over 15,000 bikes for non-compliance. Still, riders were going about undocumented.
At that time, there were just about 50,000 Okada’s in Lagos. The government also introduced the use of crash helmets due to incessant casualties from accidents. This too was largely ignored.
Today, there are over 250,000 Okadas with 78% of the riders being indigenes of Chad, Niger and Mali.
The significant rise was within the last 18 months. The most significant development that jolted the Lagos State Government was the recent influx of over 40,000 Nigeriens and Malians under the guise of looking for a means of sustenance as Okada riders.
They were all undocumented, with no form of identification whatsoever.
The Lagos State Government quickly set up a committee to look into this.
Early January, in trying to enforce registration in Apapa, Iganmu Orile, where we have the largest concentration of Okada riders from Niger and Mali, government ended up seizing about 150 Okadas, whose owners did not have riders permit.
Within a few hours, irate Hausa/Fulani youths invaded Apapa- Iganmu LCDA headquarters at Marine Beach, chased all the workers away and set the office complex ablaze and also vandalised vehicles within the vicinity causing millions of Naira in damage. No serious government would watch and not take action, most especially with the insurgency in the North East.
What we should note here is that there is a total ban on Okada in Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger State for security reasons.
Those, who did not study the situation properly have been condemning the government of Mr. Sanwo-Olu for its action.
However, they ought to know that Sanwo-olu’s government didn’t just wake up and effect the ban! It was as a result of a report presented by the Lagos State Security Council and they sought advise from the OPS as well.
The Corporate Okada companies were given ample time to implement government policy on the management of their riders but they simply just took the government for granted.
They felt that this is Nigeria, where people believe that anything goes.
In their own thinking government would not be that audacious with an outright ban.
With the millions of dollars raised at start-up, all the corporate Okada companies were interested in, was the revenue. They were interested in the N3,000 daily they were charging riders.
The companies became reckless after the Lagos State introduced N25M as annual licensing fees for 1000 riders and then N30,000 per bike thereafter.
This means that the companies would paying N295M if they had 10,000 Okada riders including tax and VAT on revenue generated.
Meanwhile the companies were earning over N1m per rider annually. They became very greedy and complacent and ceased to keep any verifiable database of the their riders with the required background checks. (This was largely done, to avoid charges).
The main concern of the owner of Gokada’ Bangladeshi was how to roll out Gokada in the thousands rather than making sure there was value added and compliance.
So most of this companies have themselves to blame. The Corporate Okadas market share in Lagos is less than 5%. TBC.
What the Lagos State Government is to sanitize the system and restore the lost glory of the state and make things work better in the centre of excellence.
The Sanwo-Olu Government means well for the residents of the state and this would be noticeable in its progressive programmes for the generality of the masses.
Residents of the state should commend the sensitivity of the Sanwo-Olu government to provide succour with the release of 65 buses and ordering additional 550 buses to ameliorate the challenge facing commuters.
The Governor knows the implications of the restrictions of the movement of okada and Keke Marwa and he is thinking outside the box on a daily basis to provide succour.
The major reason for the restrictions/ban should not be lost on the discerning residents of the state, it is meant to reduce crime and protect lives and properties as hoodlums have reportedly perfected the use of okada to commit crime with impunity.
Lagos records first Lassa fever case
Lagos State has recorded a case of the Lassa fever, a Hemorrhagic fever that is raging in over 19 states in the country.
The Lagos state Commissioner for Health Prof. Akin Abayomi, in a statement early Wednesday, confirmed that the patient is currently in isolation at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
Abayomi called on residents to be calm and not panic, noting that the situation is under control.
He assured the residents that state government, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, will do everything possible to control the spread of the disease in the state.
He said, “The Ministry of Health through Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health Directorate is currently carrying out ‘contact tracing’ to determine those who may have been infected in line with international standards while we beef up our other surveillance strategies.”
The Commissioner stressed the need for members of the public to ensure and maintain an adequate personal hygiene and environmental sanitation at all times as part of prevention and control measures against the spread of the disease in the state.
Abayomi noted that the prevention and control of the disease remained a shared responsibility of all citizens through the observance of the highest possible standards of personal and community hygiene as well as environmental sanitation.
He urged residents to store house-hold refuse in sanitary refuse bags or dust bins with tight-fitting covers to avoid infestation by rats and rodents; dispose refuse properly at designated dump sites and not into the drainage system and store food items in rodent-proof containers.
He stated that a case of Lassa Fever should be suspected in any person with persistent high fever not responding to standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever or bleeding from the body surface.
‘You are expanding the kingdom of armed robbers’ — Bode George hits Sanwo-Olu over okada ban
Bode George, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says the ban of okada and tricycles in some areas of Lagos will only increase the spate of armed robbery in the state.
On February 1, the government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu restricted commercial motorcycles and tricycles in 15 local government areas and local council development areas.
The action was received with widespread criticisms among Lagosians.
Commenting on the ban during an interview with PUNCH, George, a native of the state, said the action would only “expand the kingdom of armed robbers”.
He said the ban is “inimical to anything that makes sense”, asking if any alternative employments have been put in place for those affected.
He advised Sanwo-Olu, whom he described as his younger brother, to revisit the law.
“How can they (state government) do that? Let us forget about politics, the governor is my younger brother and his uncle is my friend. I talk to him like an elder. He should sit down and revisit that law,” George said.
“It is inimical to anything that makes any sense at all. Most workers in Lagos work in the Island, how do they get to their offices early now? Must everybody buy a car? Which alternative employment do they have for the people that they have stopped from riding a commercial motorcycle? So, how do they survive?
“They are only expanding the kingdom of armed robbers. The number of people out of job is unbelievable and you are adding to it. Get the Amotekun to be in every area and they will monitor the movement of these people (okada riders).”
Speaking on the 2023 presidency, George said ideally, the PDP should zone the ticket to the south-east.
He added that if Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), should contest the election, then he would challenge him in the race.
George described a Tinubu presidency as disruptive, vowing to denounce his citizenship if the APC leader emerged as president.
“I had said it before that ideally, from our party, once it comes back to the South, it must go to the South-East…because they have never had it, but if the name Tinubu pops up in the APC, I would go all out to contest with him,” he said.
“Let us get out there because it would be the greatest disservice for our nation to have him contest as a presidential candidate.
“It would be the most illogical and most disruptive issue to have him (Tinubu) elected as President. If this happens, I will disown Nigeria to take the citizenship of Togo or any other country.”
On the widespread insecurity across the country, George said sacking the service chiefs would not put an end to the problem.
According to him, insurgency is as a result of “mistrust between people of different faiths and tribes”.
“Nigerians are now getting involved, is it the problems of service chiefs that is responsible for all these? What we have right now is the insurgency largely as a result of mistrust between people of different faiths and tribes,” he said.
“The service chief is just one man and a tree does not make a forest. It does not mean that if you change one man all is well.
“The issue is a collective responsibility. Their loyalty to the country must outshine everything they think of.”
Lagos Introduces New Number Plate for Vehicles
In order to further prioritise safe motoring measures for crime detection on Lagos roads, the Lagos State government has introduced the newly designed Articulated and Allied Vehicle Number Plate (AVNP).
At the unveiling on Thursday, Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Frederic Oladeinde, said the initiative was from the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, through the Motor Vehicle Administration Agency (MVAA).
The Commissioner, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr Sewedo Oluseyi Whenu, explained that one of the major benefits of the initiative was the creation of a robust database for all articulated and heavy-duty vehicles, especially those that ply state roads.
“As you are all aware, it is quite difficult to manage or deal with any problem effectively if you can’t measure it or have verifiable data.
“The essence of the database is, therefore, to provide and share valuable information and data on an articulated vehicle with the law enforcement agencies, the Nigeria Police and the Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS) for safety and security as well as crime investigation and detection purposes,” he stated.
Mr Oladeinde disclosed that all new vehicles coming into the state through the ports will be required to obtain the Temporary Vehicle Tag (TVT) to be issued by MVAA as a means of identification for yet-to-be-fully registered, newly-acquired vehicles pending full registration.
He maintained that the new AVNP scheme has been designed and simplified to engender user-friendly and seamless procedures for the issuance of the plates, assuring that the pricing regime for the plates is affordable.
Also speaking at the event, General Manager of Lagos State Drivers’ Institute (LASDRI), Mrs Afusat Tiamiyu, appealed to drivers to ensure that they upgrade their driving skills by enrolling at the institute for training, stressing the Agency has skilled personnel who impart knowledge required for safe and precision driving.
Her counterpart at the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr Olatunde Oduyoye, in his remarks, stated that complying with traffic regulations ensures sanity on the roads, pointing out that if there is a free flow of traffic, there will be reduced lawless activities on the roads.
Earlier, while delivering her welcome address, the General Manager of MVAA, Mrs Lape Kilanko, reiterated the present administration’s resolve to form an all-inclusive government.
She gave the assurance that MVAA will continually review its policies to provide services that are customer-oriented and tailored towards the ease of doing business.
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