• Lagos state government bans Okada and tricycles around the state's metropolis.
  • The government attributes the ban to the rising rate of crime and accidents on highways citing the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law 2018.
  • Business Insider SSA looks at the law and why the Okada ban may not affect bike-hailing platforms.

The Lagos state government has banned commercial motorcyclists known as Okada, and tricycles (Keke) around the state's metropolis.

Gbenga Omotoso, the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, who disclosed this at a press briefing on Monday, January 27th, 2020, said the decision was reached at a meeting of the Lagos State Government and the Lagos State Security Council. The government attributed the ban to the rising rate of crime and accidents citing a 2018 law - Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law 2018.

The figures are scary. From 2016 to 2019, there were over 10,000 accidents recorded at the General Hospitals alone. This number excludes unreported cases and those recorded by other hospitals. The total number of deaths from reported cases is over 600 as at date.

“The rate of crimes aided by Motorcycles (Okada) and Tricycles (Keke) keeps rising. Motorcycles (Okada) and Tricycles (Keke) are also used as getaway means by criminals.

The Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led government enforcement agency to ensure Zero Tolerance on the listed Local Governments, highways, and bridges, effective from February 1, 2020.

What the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law 2018 says

In 2018, the government enacted laws regulating the transport sector. The law banned motorcycles (Okada) on Lagos highways and prescribed punishment for offenders.

But Section 15(1) of the law stipulates that motorcycles with 200cc engine and above are exempted from the restriction. This is where the Bike-hailing startups such as ORide by OPay, Max.ng. SafeBoda, Gokada are playing.

“Subject to the provisions of Sector 46 of this law, motorcycles above 200 cubic centimeter (cc) engine capacity are exempted from the restriction on the use of motorcycles on the State highways.

“Other motorcycles exempted from the law are those for mail distribution or courier services with engine capacity of 200cc, carrying prescribed vehicle plate number and or identification and not carry a passenger.

“Such a motorcycle must also have a comprehensive insurance policy.”

Other requirements include wearing of standard protective helmet, not carrying more than one person at a time, cannot carry a pregnant woman, and a child below 12 years or an adult with a baby or a large/heavy item placed on the head.

By the virtue of the law, these ride-hailing startups are exempted unless the government amends the 2018 law.

Lagos Task Force Impound Gokada motorcycles for violating the state traffic rules. (PM News)
Lagos Task Force Impound Gokada motorcycles for violating the state traffic rules. (PM News)

Business as usual for Bike-hailing services until the government provides clarity

Sources at a popular bike hailing service in Lagos told Business Insider SSA on Tuesday that business continues as usual until the government states otherwise.

"We are not breaking any rules, we are operating at standard and the ban has nothing to do with us.

"For regulation, we are still discussing with the government and I believe very soon everything will be resolved," one of the sources said.

Another source said ride-sharing operations will continue.

In a similar report by Reuters, Chinedu Azodoh, cofounder of Max.ng, said since their bikes are above the 200 cubic centimeter engine size banned specifically by the law, so it is not certain if the ban will affect their business.

He expects the government to provide more clarity on the implementation of the law.

Iniabasi Akpan, Country Manager of Opay, had told Business Insider SSA in 2019 that regulation is very important in the bike-hailing industry.