By Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu declared a total ban on the operation of commercial motorcycles popularly called “Okada” on all highways across six Local Government Areas (LGAs) and nine Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) of the state.
The governor stated that the fresh ban was aimed to curtail the unruly activities of commercial motorcyclists which were already constituting a nuisance in the metropolis.
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Sanwo-Olu made the announcement while briefing heads of security agencies in the state at a meeting at the State House, Ikeja on Wednesday.
Effective from June 1 the governor directed security operatives to enforce the proscription order across the listed councils. The affected councils are Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Surulere, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, and Apapa.
The total ban order extends to all LCDAs under the listed councils.
Sanwo-Olu said the government took the decision in line with the State’s Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 to immediately address the chaos and menace created by the operations of Okada in the listed areas.
Sanwo-Olu told the police to enforce the order without compromise, sternly warning that the State Government would not condone any security formation that relaxes the new ban in its jurisdiction.
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He said: “After a critical review of our restriction on Okada activities in the first six Local Government Areas where we restricted them on February 1, 2020, we have seen that the menace has not abated. We are now directing a total ban on Okada activities across the highways and bridges within these six Local Government and their Local Council Development Areas, effective from June 1, 2022.
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“This is a phased ban we are embarking on this period, and we expect that within the short while when this ban will be enforced, Okada riders in other places where their activities are yet to be banned can find something else to do. We have given the notice now and we expect all commercial motorcycles plying the routes in the listed councils and areas to vacate the highways before enforcement begins. The enforcement will be total.”
Sanwo-Olu advised residents patronising Okada riders on highways to embrace the alternative transport schemes already provided by the Government to plan their journey. He said the Government had provided Last-Mile Buses, medium-capacity and high-capacity buses in the affected areas for the convenience of commuters.
The governor insisted that Okada riding on the highways remained unsafe and would no longer be tolerated. He said the State Government had been ramping up construction work on its two rail line projects to further increase the choices of commuting for residents.
He said: “We have provided Last-Mile buses in the affected areas; they are working and effective. We also have medium-capacity buses and high-capacity buses working in these areas. Before the end of the year, we are also bringing the rail along these corridors with their terminals. We have provided jetties as well to provide alternatives.
“We will not sit back and watch criminally-minded people use that mode of transportation (motorcycles) to perpetrate crimes and criminality in Lagos. Lives are being lost on a daily basis, preventable accidents are happening every day and the riders are not respecting any of our traffic laws. The situation has led to a complete breakdown of law and order. This ban has come to stay and we will not tolerate any weakness in enforcement.”
Meanwhile, the National Secretary of Agbekoya Farmers Society (AFS), a union of Yoruba farmers has written an open letter to the governor on the influx of illegal immigrants in the state, who were disguising Okada riders and causing havoc.
The National Secretary of AFS, Prince Adegbenro Ogunlana, in the letter dated May 18, drew the attention of the governor to various atrocities being perpetrated by the so-called foreigners riding Okada in the state.
The group scribe pleaded with Sanwo-Olu to take effective measures to avert the looming danger intent to perpetrate illegal immigrants operating as Okada riders in the state.