Hon Temitope Adewale is a member of the Lagos State House Of Assembly representing Ifako Ijaye constituency 1 and Chairman House Committee on Transportation. In this Interview With OKUNADE ADEKUNLE, the lawmaker bears his mind on the controversial Okada and Tricycle operations ban In Lagos recently. Adewale argued that the policy was a product of people’s demand, stating that the policy was in the interest of Lagosians. Excepts
In view of negative reactions the restriction of Okada and Tricycle operations in some local governments by the state government, what would be the concern of your committee?
I am delighted you called it restriction not ban unlike some media had been calling it. There have been mixed feelings if it is restriction or ban. There is no policy that will be made without its negative impact because people are used to one particular way of doing things and now a new way is introduced . With restriction of Okada, it was done in 2012 and it was well complied with just as it is now . I thank Lagosians for giving us the opportunity to serve them better. We urge them to kindly understand and bear with us on the plans we have for the transport sector. We understand their pain and we are doing everything possible within our capacity as a government to make things better for their livelihood.
There is concern that the corporate bike operators like Gokada were affected unlike when it was first implemented during Babatunde Fashola. The operators argued that their operations are in line with the traffic law 2012, why is the current policy affecting them?
The law was made in August 2012 by former governor Babatunde Fashola and we all complied with it. When you are talking about transport sector reform law, this has to do with laws being updated to suit the need of the people presently. 2012 is different from 2018, what we are saying now is that in 2012 we did not have much bikes like we have them and we have them regulated and that is what we are doing. So, talking about the capacity of the bikes, the power bikes are excluded once you have a number plate. It is not for business but private use. It is hardly to see power bike carrying passenger for livelihood. The capacity of a bike is not measured by its size but by its engine . You can have a Prado Land cruiser that has four blocks and at the same time you can have a Prado Land cruiser that is V6. We can’t be deceived by the size or capacity of a bike with look.
Are you not worried that people will lose their jobs and crime rate will increase?
When we say restriction, we mean do not ply these roads , we do not say drop your bike and go home . Restriction means certain areas are not for you to ply go to somewhere else . When you go somewhere and com back. We are not saying drop the bikes for us. If Lagos state is said to be 22million people and let say half of them are mobile Nigerians which is 11million 50% of them are the ones that need the Okadas and Tricycles which is 7.5million people. If 7.5million people are in need of Okada and the total number of bikers we have in Lagos are 300,000 , can they meet up with the needs of the people? So, who are they leaving the jobs to? We should stop putting up sentiment regarding the policy. And if we keep saying that if they stop riding the bikes they will become thieves that means we already have thieves riding bike.
There are abuses of this restriction policy by the law enforcement agencies, is there a measure to ensure the policy is not abuses by the law enforcement agencies?
There is the need for the ministry of information to pass adequate information to the general public . The list of the restricted roads and local governments should be made public . The public needs to be sensitised enough so that they can know the local governments that are affected . Also, a communiqué should be sent to all police stations in all local governments so as to know when and where they should enforcement the law or not . There are still alot of job to be done by the government which i agree with you in terms of information dissemination and I hope the government will do all necessary things to also pass information to the general public . Also, people should adhere to the rules and laws of Lagos state . I have seen situation where the bike men go against traffic . If by chance they are going against traffic and you hit them or they hit you , there is a mob action on you instantly.
The operators protested peacefully at the entrance of the House of Assembly and a Lawmaker addressed them and assured that they would be invited by the House to deliberate on it, is the government still considering calling them back later?
As you can see when coming in, the representatives of the operators are here to have meeting with me on this issue . The government is a very sensitive government who cares about the people, the yearnings of the people was what led to the restriction policy because people requested for it . However, there is also the need for us to continue to engage this sector to make sure there is a free flow communication and understanding between the government and the people. They are here because they want to have a talk with me and we will also speak with them regarding collection of licences and the modalities of their operations in the state .
Who is empowered to arrest the offenders, is it LASTMA, Police or a special taskforce?
The taskforce is in charge likewise the LASTMA officials . Once you are fond wanting on the restricted roads and local governments, they both have the power to arrest.
Why did the government fail to meet with them before the enforcement of the law?
If you remember vividly in 2019 during Mr Governor’s campaign, he made sure that the THEME agenda which started with transport management and traffic solution, were part of his campaign. During the period, he met with the bikers and he spoke on the working together with the registered bikers which includes the Opay and also talked about how they will regulate the operations of bike across the state and it was a good step in the right direction. They met with him and took pictures . This shows they were contacted before now.
How does the government want to ameliorate the suffering of commuters?
Government has released 65 buses and 14 boats will be launched tomorrow (Tuesday) . This will also help the heavy usage of the roads by increasing the usage of our waterways.