Sanwo-Olu: ‘I did not intend to inflict pain with Okada ban’

Lagos governor says a recent policy that took commercial motorcyclists off congested roads is for the best.

Lagos Gov Sanwo-olu addresses new recruits of LASTMA in Lagos on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 (Twitter: @Mr_Jags)

A ban on the operations of commercial motorcyclists (Okada) and tricycles (Keke) which kicked off on Saturday, February 1, 2020, has left many Lagosians fuming and raining curses on their governor.

The ban has sparked violent protests in suburbs like Ijora, Costain, Ikeja and Iyana Ipaja, with police stray bullets reportedly killing at least five people in Nigeria’s commercial capital and most populous city since the restriction kicked in.

The okada is a favorite among hustling Lagosians, for its ability to weave through long lines of vehicles stuck in the city’s notorious traffic jams and on pot-hole laden road surfaces.

For millions of Lagosians, the okada was the difference between arriving work early and incurring the wrath of the boss; or between catching that all important appointment or kissing a lucrative contract goodbye.

“I want to reassure Lagosians that our recent policy on the restriction of okada and tricycles in some parts of the state is not intended to inflict pain on our people,” Sanwo-Olu said on Wednesday, February 5, 2020, at the passing-out parade of 1,017 newly recruited traffic officers who graduated from Induction Course 10 of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) in Oshodi.

Critics say the ban was not properly thought through and that it was a knee jerk one.

The governor has also been heavily criticized for not providing alternatives before the ban, with the city’s rickety yellow buses or Danfos unable to reach deplorable inner city roads at the best of times.

However, Sanwo-Olu says “the policy was well thought out, conceived and implemented in the best interest, welfare and safety of Lagosians and mine.

“We will continue to roll out other palliative measures in the interim and in the medium to long term basis, that will cushion the effect of some of these new changes.

“We have also charged our contractors working on our various roads and traffic improvement junctions to speed up work and to ensure that they deliver on those improvements within the time frame we’ve set out for them.”

The governor has cited recklessness from the keke and okada riders, accidents and increasing crime rate as reasons for the ban.

The okada was banned from 15 of Lagos’ 20 local governments and 37 LCDAs (Local Council Development Authorities).

The commercial bikers were also asked to stay off the city’s congested and chaotic bridges and highways.

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