The coast is clear for the Lagos State government to put a total ban on the operation of Okada riders in the state as Lagosians called for drastic action against them
At a Stakeholders’ Meeting on Security, held at the Adeyemi Bero Hall, Alausa, Ikeja on Monday, Lagosians demanded action against the menace of the Okada riders, kidnapping, armed robbery, cult clashes, and violent assaults.
The meeting had in attendance religious leaders, the Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba, military chiefs, traditional leaders, community leaders, students, unionists and members of the State Executive Council.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was the first to give a hint of the next policy direction concerning the operation of the Okada riders when he assured his audience that a decisive action would be taken on them.
Thereafter, speaker after speaker called on government to put a total ban on them. The operators, they said, are unruly, uncouth, rude and brutal.
The state government, Sanwo-Olu said, will be inaugurating the First and Last Mile buses next week, which will ply the routes the motorcycles are plying. Besides, those who have taken up Okada riding for lack of jobs were advised to grab the opportunities in agriculture, wealth creation, poverty alleviation and other government programmes.
Sanwo-Olu said the meeting was convened in response to the growing threat posed by some lawless activities to the safety and security of lives in the State.
The governor said the string of lawlessness daily witnessed from the confrontation between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies required an urgent action, stressing that the Government would be announcing reforms in transportation, which will further make changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations.
He said: “We have noted with dismay the fact that Okada riders are disregarding and flouting the restrictions we imposed on their activities in certain areas of the metropolis. We have also observed with dismay, the ongoing violent confrontation by commercial motorcyclists against our law enforcement agencies.
“Based on all that we have seen and experienced in the past couple of weeks, as well as the increasing threat posed by the activities of commercial motorcycle operators to the safety and security of lives, we will be announcing further changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations in the State in the coming days. No society can make progress amid such haughty display of lawlessness and criminality.”
Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, while appraising the security situation in the state, raised the alarm over rising security breaches resulting from the menace of Okada operations.
According to him, between January and early this month, 320 commercial motorcycles were arrested in 218 cases of criminal incidents in which 78 suspects were detained and 480 ammunition recovered.
In the same period, the Lagos police boss said Okada accounted for 83 per cent of 385 cases of avoidable fatal vehicular accidents in Lagos.
He said: “The menace of Okada operators does not end with avoidable accidents. Crime reports from the field have shown that a greater percentage of crimes, ranging from armed robbery, cultism, kidnapping, murder, burglary and stealing, traffic robbery to carjacking and cash snatching from bank customers, are attributable to armed hoodlums who operate on Okada.
“The nuisance constituted by the Okada operators on Lagos roads has become a danger to law abiding citizens. Sections of Lagos populace have come to regard commercial motorcycles as a necessary evil, it has become imperative for the Government to take more drastic measures against their notoriety.
“The State Police Command strongly advises the State Government to immediately review the current guidelines guiding the operation of Okada as a means of commercial transportation in the State and take decisive legal and administrative steps and policies that will curb their traffic, criminal and other nefarious activities in the State.”