Reappraising the ban on okada in Lagos | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Reappraising the ban on okada in Lagos

Posted: Apr 28, 2015 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

 By Emmanuel Udom  /  Lagos


The restriction of okada transportation business to some routes and expressways in Lagos state is no longer news.

In an attempt to bring sanity into okada business, the Lagos state government, August 2013, ordered riders to limit their activities to certain routes across various parts of the state.

Statistics from the state secretariat of the motorcycle union at Pleasure bus-stop in Abule Egba showed that there are over 300,000 registered okada riders operating in Lagos.

“In the last two years, some of these okada riders have had their bikes impounded and crushed thereby throwing them into the labour market”, Comrade Israel Kanayo, Lagos state secretary of the Okada union said.

But, Kenneth Nwosu, Lagos police image maker said that police officers in the state have been up and doing in the area of enforcement, since the restrictions came into being.

His words: “Motorcycles running into hundreds have been impounded by the police from restricted routes and ferried to the Lagos state government secretariat in Alausa, Ikeja, where the bikes are crushed”.

However, two years down the line, most okada riders, who spoke with our correspondent, said it is not uhuru for them, as daily they are being harassed by the police, VIO officers and others.

Asia Dike, chairman, New Garage unit of the okada union lamented that police officers from the Rapid Response Squad, who are detailed to keep checks on okada business near Ile-Zik, along Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, may have made fortunes from the restrictions.

According to him, “these RRS police officers could leave their pin down points, drive to Bariga areas of Lagos and begin to arrest okada riders operating along St Finbarrs College road, Ashobo road, Jagumolu and Shobami road”.

The unit chairman insisted that these routes do not fall into the over 1000 routes restricted from okada business, even as he allege that the RRS police officers extort N5, 000 from okada owners.

Nwosu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police could not hear of it. He challenged Dike to come up with facts as opposed to unfounded alarm on any police officer that has collected money as egunje from okada riders.

But, while the New Bariga unit chairman and the police image maker is locked in a verbal war, Israel, says most young okada riders, who ply expressways in Lagos, despite the restrictions do not have riders cards.

Israel mentioned police harassment, some young okada riders operating along expressways unchecked, lack of riders’ cards, and reckless driving by some okada riders as some of the challenges the business is faced with daily.

Last week, surveillance by our correspondent around Oke-Odo area of Abule Egba in Lagos revealed that some young okada riders, operating around Ekoro junction, Kotangowa market area, Old Ota road Agbeleke are always reckless and restive, while driving.

James Akpan, a treasurer at the Agbeleke unit of okada union lamented that some of the young riders do not belong to any unit, nor do they have riders’ cards.

Investigations showed that with N1, 300 an okada rider could be issued with the riders’ card, after filling the form and submitting it at any of the collection centers with one passport photograph for processing.

But, some riders, who spoke insisted that the issuance have been put on hold for sometimes by the Vehicle Inspection Service unit of the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation.

Reacting to the issue, Engineer A. Toriola, Chief Vehicle Inspection Officer for Lagos state admitted in a telephone chat with our correspondent that VIS has been having problems in recent times with the issuance of the riders’ cards.

According to him, there are 34 VIS offices spread across various parts of Lagos. Some of these offices are located at: Agege, Onigbongbo, Ikeja, Bariga, Iponri, Epe, Apapa, Mushin, Ojota and Badagry.

His words: We had issues with the contractors handling the printing of the cards and these issues could soon be resolved.

He however said that all riders who applied for the riders’ cards had their forms stamped and signed by VIO officials at any of the centers, saying that with this, the riders cannot be arrested by the police.