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Trekking Lagosians lament as Okada ban hits harder

The Okada was part of the Lagos economy before its ban (Punch)

If you’ve been trekking to work because of the Okada ban, Lagos govt says it's a "little discomfort."

The ban, which affects six local governments spanning the heart of the city, has left many residents walking long distances where commercial buses cannot reach.

Lagosians say the ban is a myopic one, enforced without alternatives.

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“I don’t know why the governor has to make us suffer this much. Clearly, this policy was not well thought through before implementation,” says Lagos resident Ayoola Anifowoshe who works in Lekki. “I have had to trek several kilometers this morning because buses usually don’t ply inner streets in Lekki. The keke was our major means of transportation. Now they are gone with no alternatives whatsoever.”

Kehinde Adigun who works in a Victoria Island bank says the ban hasn’t been funny. “This just shows that our leaders are elitists and far removed from the daily realities of the average citizens. How do you ban okada in a place like Lagos where most roads are in such horrible conditions and where there’s always traffic? The okada had its faults but we could navigate gridlock and get to work faster with it. What do we do now?” Adigun asks.

However, the Lagos state government says it will soon flood the roads with buses to cushion the pain of the ban. “The little discomfort experienced by commuters on some routes due to the absence of motorcycles and tricycles is noted. This won’t last as alternatives are being rolled out,” the state government announced through its twitter account.

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“A fleet of 65 buses will join the others on some major routes as from Monday, February 3, 2020. No less than 550 more buses are being expected. Besides, 14 ferries will be commissioned on Tuesday. This will further open up the waterways, reduce travel time on various routes and provide safe, dependable and comfortable alternatives for commuters.”

However, Twitter user OBOGlobal says, "14 ferries and 65 buses for a population of 18 million? In London alone there are 8,600 buses in the bus fleet, operating on 700 routes, serving 19,000 bus stops serving a population of 8.7 million. Eat that!"

Thousands of people found ready employment in the Okada and keke informal sector in a country where unemployment figures and crime rates are pretty high.

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Okada and keke mechanics will also be out of jobs as a consequence.

The Lagos state government says “it is not unaware that enforcing this directive may lead to some job losses. The governor plans to announce some measures to tackle the likely effects of the order.”

The Lagos state government has cited “chaos and disorderliness” and “scary figures” of fatal accidents as reasons for the ban.

Passengers have been queuing up across the city for commercial buses whose operators have hiked fares to take advantage of soaring demand.

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Ride hailing companies, Gokada, Max.ng and Oride have also been affected by the ban.

Chinedu Azodoh, cofounder of Max.ng, says their bikes are above the 200 cubic centimeter engine size banned under the law, and that he had not heard directly from the government. But a ban, he says, amounts to “a restriction on poor people."

In June, Gokada told Reuters that there are an estimated 8 million okada drivers operating across Nigeria. A chunk of that number operated in Lagos.

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Trucks filled with the okada have been photographed departing Lagos since the ban .

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