Okada Ban in Lagos Discussed

by Akintokunbo Adejumo

Raise your hand if you want your child to be keke rider!’ – Seun Kuti tackles Nigerians over okada ban – TheCable Lifestyle https://lifestyle.thecable.ng/raise-your-hand-if-you-want-your-child-to-be-a-keke-rider-seun-kuti-tackles-nigerians-over-okada-ban/#.XjvAu4u4snw.whatsapp

Eric Ayoola: That’s a ridiculous assertion. Even in the UK, an affluent country, there are people who make a living by delivering items, etc, using bikes and motorcycles. The ban is outrageous, anti-people and unsustainable. Our politicians are loath to engage brain to solve problems just brawn and the way out.

Gbolahan Gbadamosi: There is no reason to get angry with the young man. Seun Kuti has posed a simple question: Is Okada and Keke riding the sort of career people want for their children? Let them stand up and be counted. Let them put their money where their mouth is.

The state commissioner for information came out with statistics of deaths and permanent disability occasioned by Okada riding. I was shocked. You couldn’t even make up those figures. It is irresponsible of government to have waited this long anyway. In implementing the ban, government decided to start with the elite part of Lagos. Only 15 out of 57 LDAs. These are the places where people are better off not where the very poor lives. But we don’t want the change at all. We want government to have a miracle overnight solution. Everyone start shouting that they are advocates of the masses. The same masses that die and get maimed using these rubbish for transport.

You quickly refer to the UK but you didn’t say the bikes are used for transport in the UK. You said it is used for deliveries. Who will worry if we only use it for deliveries in Nigeria? Certainly not me. Apples and Oranges!

Many years ago government decided to get rid of the shameful Molue. They were not even as dangerous as Okada but they were shameful and dangerous in their own ways. This is the same noise our people made that commuters will die and all poor people will burn walking. Today there are no Molues in Lagos.

Change is hard. If there’s no pain, there’s no gain. I have no doubt about the immediate inconvenience the ban will cause. But we are a very resilient people, an Okada ban that you see as a disaster has immediately been seen as an opportunity for many Lagosians. Many small buses are springing up from nowhere. Many more will come. A new business opportunity is here.

I will prioritise safety and dignity of our people over and above the frivolities of public noise on social media especially by people who are not affected. That in my mind is what government is doing.

We talk about insecurity all the time and in neighbourhoods all hands point to Okada as the main escape route. Surulere people (in some part) welcome this only because of crime promoted by Okada riders.

The unemployment caused to riders is the other noise. Those bikes are immediately on the way to other states. Majority have moved to the more than 40 LDA areas of Lagos where it is not banned. The governor of Oyo State has announced he is considering such ban soon and that people should not bring those Okada from Lagos to his state. Lagos is not the first state to do this ban anyway – Enugu, Kano, Kaduna, Imo have all banned at different times. Let me also predict that if Lagos is successful and security improves and accident and hospital cost to government reduces many more states would immediately follow.

Overall, with the ban in the most “elite” part of Lagos government can learn what to do differently as they ultimately roll out the plan throughout the state. That is what sensible governments do worldwide. Do it step by step and learn from the mistake. This would also gear government up to improve provisions of more public buses (BRT). If you are looking for a people who want to eat their cake and have, look no further because they are based in Nigeria. Governance in Nigeria is not a piece of cake. Our educated elites who claim the monopoly of knowledge at all times are real problems here.

Eric Ayoola: Whether the man or woman is in the UK and making a living as a rider is using his or her bike for delivering items or delivering people, the fact is that he or she is making a living from it. Turning our noses up at what people do to make a living is a typical African malaise. In the UK, and many parts of the developed world, there is pride in labour from the street cleaner to the Prime Minister. And as per Okada it’s the most affordable means of transport for the masses. Banning them outright is unconscionable.

Gbolahan Gbadamosi: If anyone decide tomorrow in your UK to start using his motorcycle as a means of transportation in order to earn a living from it as you call it that person will be arrested.

Ibukunolu Alao Babajide: To deliver items! Not to deliver people and expose them to death and danger! Look at the other side of the coin too! Too many needless deaths and injuries are caused by these okada riders.

Gbolahan Gbadamosi: As a citizen and a stakeholder in Lagos I personally look forward to a Lagos in 10 years’ time that is well organised in terms of transportation and not one where Okada would be our pride and what we want to show off to the world. If Cape Town, Johannesburg, NY, Madrid, London and Lisbon can do it, Lagos can do it with careful planning. That is the Nigeria I am looking forward to seeing in the future not a Nigeria proud of Okada riding to move commuters around.

Everyone has a right to his own dreams, ambition and aspirations. I aspire and dream that because I know it is possible.

Eric Ayoola: My son and his sister and my wife accompanied me on the recent trip to Nigeria. And he asked, on his return, “Dad, why don’t we use motor bikes as means of commercial transport in London as done in Nigeria?” And frankly, I couldn’t think of any reason why not. It will surprise you when such a phenomenon was to happen in the UK. It might not be as an essential means of transport but maybe for thrill seekers. The Lagos government can do better or study how countries with more motor bikes than Nigeria handle theirs

Ibukunolu Alao Babajide: So, because there is pride in labour, government should ignore safety and security? Can I be selling cocaine door to door because of dignity in labour? This is how we condone indiscipline until it becomes an untreatable problem. People occupy and build stalls on public land and start selling and causing a nuisance. When they are ejected people start shedding crocodile tears. Half of all the traffic in Lagos is caused by people turning highways into stalls. Can we not obey simple laws and instructions?

Ibukunolu Alao Babajide: Your simple answer should have been, here people are disciplined and obey laws but in Nigeria they are not.

Gbolahan Gbadamosi: You mix things up a bit my sweet brother. I will keep it at those countries I know above Nigeria on your list that I have personally visited or did some work: Indonesia, Malaysia, and China do NOT use motorcycles for transportation. They are all heavily populated countries some significantly more than us.

The key word is not the heavy use of motorcycles in the city as you say, it is using it as a means of transportation for “mass movement” of people. One motorcycle will carry 2-3 people. Compare that with a bus or a train. If it is about getting people to their destinations, you need a big vehicle to do it effectively and efficiently.

In those countries above Nigeria on your list the bicycle riders are mostly alone commuting to work or to a business and they are sensible and want to get back to their families. Okada riders in Lagos, if you have seen them and especially if you have been on it, are mostly irresponsible and aggressive. Often, sometimes are desperate to break somebody’s leg (including their own leg) just for fun. Many are on heavy doses of tramadol, alomo, opa eyin, and burantashi. (If you are close to the people you will know that stuff. Again, apples and oranges sir!

Eric Ayoola: So, regulate them. Dint take the easy and non-cerebral yet anti-people way out.
Wow… so, a government cannot put in place safe guards? We just don’t want our politicians to think at all.

Ibukunolu Alao Babajide: The only safeguard is to ban them. Okada is also a security issue. They are a risk and a menace!

Eric Ayoola: That doesn’t address the question though. We will all be here mouth agape if an entrepreneurial Nigerian Youth starts Okada London. Gets it registered and away he/she goes. The policy obviously will find favour amongst the well to do. Whilst the indigent people who rely on the bikes both fir transport and means of likelihood will suffer.

Gbolahan Gbadamosi: This argument will not fly. It disappears in the face of the evidence.
Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki, Apapa, Ikeja, Surulere. These are the areas where most well-to-do people live. These are the areas Okada is presently banned. Rich people should be protesting. Why should poor people be protesting on their behalf? Okada is still moving freely in other areas.

If you already afford to live in these places and you are adversely affected by the ban, then it is time to consider moving to other areas so you can continue to use Okada, don’t you think so?

Eric Ayoola: Haba…. Rich people in those areas are served by poor people who travel from afar . Not so? Whether banned in rich areas or banned in poor areas, those who will suffer are the poor people. Simple!

Funsho Jacobs Adekanye: It’s sincerely dangerous for safety and security of Lagos to continue to keep Bike and Keke. I walked from Law School to Amodu Ojikutu this morning on my way to the office and it feel cool. If you live or work in VI and appreciate the essence of security you ll definitely applaud the restrictions. Two weeks ago in the office we still debated the issue of strange riders of Okada in Lagos. Most of the riders especially in VI, Ikoyi and Apapa are of no visible address and they even refused registering the Bikes. No wonder it was so easy for them to start returning where they came from since last Saturday.

Eric Ayoola: Again…the haves will applaud. It cannot be too much for a government to regulate and to inspect. Not ALL okada riders are foreigners and non-indigenes. Not ALL okada riders are Boko Haram in disguise. They provide a vital service which the government hasn’t replaced.

Gbolahan Gbadamosi: We do not want a Nigeria where some poor people are serving some rich people. We look forward to dignified labour. Nobody want their generation to be servants. Let rich people serve themselves or make their children useful. If they are really rich let them house the poor servant so he/she doesn’t have to commute. All those locations with ban have bus-stops. “Servants” will have to walk maximum of 30 minutes to get to their destination from the bus-stop in any of those locations. I was born in Lagos and I think I know the place well.
We look forward to a better Nigeria where the rich is not exploiting the poor in the name of serving them. I sign out of this one.

Funsho Jacobs Adekanye: Truly speaking Champion, Factory work is work, Cobbler is work, carpentry is work, Road cleaning is work, Okada is not work! It’s a suicidal Enterprise, killing in the short or medium term.

Abayomi Fakorede: It would have had more meaning if there was adequate public transport system. It doesn’t add up in a country where the public transport system is next to non-existent. A well-regulated operation would have had more meaning than outright ban. Operators should be licensed before they can operate. Okada licence will be issued by the local authorities at a reasonable amount. This will generate some revenue for the local authorities. The motor bikes cannot be modified in any way as it is presently where operators remodify the seats to enable them carry more passengers. Overloading should not be tolerated. They also modify the steering wheels so that they can navigate between traffic. Safety helmet must be worn. These are health and safety risks which should not be tolerated. Operators must provide verifiable address and bear ID badge whilst on duty. Biometric identification should be used.

Funsho Jacobs Adekanye: There is State Law stating all you mentioned here that the riders are not obeying. I just told you here that in Apapa & co, 95% of the Okada got no plate numbers. There are reports that in an attempt by Apapa Iganmu LCDA to compel them to register they mobilised and attacked and burned the LCDA Secretariat!!!

Abayomi Fakorede: The laws are there but there is no enforcement. Same way as it is with all our laws. Those who burned down should be identified and punished accordingly.

Eric Ayoola: Reads like a communist novel. Where there are no servants and all are either all rich together or poor together. It does not exist in real life. Not even in communist countries.

And if the purpose of destroying the livelihood of indigent people is to stop them from being poor, what has been brought in by government to replace their means of livelihood. An anti-people policy cannot be cloaked in any veneer of reasonableness. I am sorry.

Akintunde Adejumo: The opportunity cost should be adequately analysed. Many families depend on the okada and keke for survival. It is the elite that are scared of the presence of the riders that should champion re-distribution of wealth which can open up the economy better.

Eric Ayoola: Abi o. And provide alternative means of transport before banning the means of transport relied on by millions.

Gbolahan Gbadamosi: My Otunba, you left Lagos a long time ago. You go back in limousines. Get in touch with your people and they will tell you. Seriously, there are regulations in place but Nigerians are not traceable. Okada riders refuse to register or be regulated. They refuse to follow simple traffic laws. They refuse to wear helmets. They continue to convey armed robbers if they are not robbing themselves. Majority of new entrants into Okada riding are said to be foreigners from everywhere actually. Lagosians say some don’t even speak English or pidgin. It is a serious security challenge. The hospitals cannot cope with accidents arising from Okada riding. This is daily. I am not making this up. The figures are publicly available and shocking.

To come back to your most serious assertion of an outright ban. This is simply not true. Majority of Lagosians do not live in Ikoyi, VI, Ikeja, Apapa and Surulere. These people are actually in the minority. These are the places where Okada is banned not the whole of Lagos. That is not outright! That is a systematic implementation of sanity in transportation system.

Unless otherwise, like Eric, you are fighting on behalf of your own servants who commute from Oko-Oba to Ikoyi where Eric and yourself lives. I’m running away before both of you catch me.

Eric Ayoola: Lol… See turn or event o. Champion GG who cares not a jot for the thousands rendered jobless and the poor workers left without means of transport now wants to accuse those asking that humanity and compassion be brought into government policy of being elitist.? Wonders will never cease.

Abayomi Fakorede: It takes us to the wider picture, which is the general state of lawlessness. Okada operators are not the only ones who do not obey laws, so why single them out for punishment. What about other road users who flout traffic rules with reckless abandon? Nobody wants to do as they are told in Nigeria. They just want to be left alone to continue to do their nonsense. Laws are useless if they are not enforced.

Funsho Jacobs Adekanye: Probably you are not aware that Okada is outrightly banned in Kano, Kaduna, Borno,Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Bauchi, Katsina and so many others. The riders displaced in those places and their collaborators from Mali, Chad and Niger Republic constitute the Lagos Challenge. So, if their State Governments banned Okada and didn’t provide alternative, why must it become Lagos State’s responsibility? Or it’s Lagos responsibility to create Jobs for Mali, Chad and Niger guys crowding our space. Why didn’t they go to Accra or Nairobi, why Lagos?

Kweku Adedayo Tandoh: I’m not sure this gentleman is based in Lagos. Sir, have you seen the okada riders? 90-95% of the ones in Lagos are foreigners (non-Nigerians) and they are a menace. There have been so many terrible and violent incidents that have been traced to them. Please we in Lagos do not want them. Our lives are not safe at all with these people in their large numbers.

(The above were the discussants on the Champions For Nigeria (CFN) WhatsApp platform)

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