By Okunade Adekunle
A large number of commercial motorcycle operators on Friday took to the street to express their grievances over the recent decision of the Lagos State Government to restrict their movement in some local government areas, bridges, and highways in the state.
The operators, which included Gokada and MAX Okada staged a peaceful protest from Oregun road to the State House of Assembly in Ikeja.
Bearing various placards, the protesters appealed to the state government to regulate their services and not restrict them from operating.
They lamented that the business is their only means of survival.
The peaceful protests comes after managements of Gokada and Max NG ride-hailing services made an appeal to the state government to rescind the decision, stating that their operations were compliant with the 2012 traffic law and the social impact made by the ride services in terms of job creations.
Mr. Tayo Bamidiro, Chief Executive Officer, MAXOkada, stated that the company had created 2,200 direct jobs for their drivers and full-time staff and 73,000 indirect jobs.
One of the representatives of the protesters, Steve Orajiakwu of 1st- ride, said they were not consulted before the ban was announced by the state government.
“We are not happy with the way the ban was done. We are running a democratic government and when decisions that concerns the lives of people are to be made by government, the people should be consulted.Whatever government did is not good for us. We We were never invited for debate. We know government is concerned about security and lives of people as well as influx of some people from certain region of the country.
“But we are professionals. Our bikes have tracking devices and camera. We went for blood and eye test. We went for for intensive training. Government should call us and see the possibility of regulating us,” he lamented
Also lamenting the effects the ban will have on their livelihood, Uche Ekemiri of Gokada said: “We pay tax to government and we are ready to have license. Government just woke up one day and ban us and I don’t see reasons they should ban us. This is what we do for living.”
A female operator, Ebina Sandra of G-Pilot, said the proceeds from riding commercial motorcycles had helped her to further her education and appealed to the state government to have a rethink.
” I am accountant and finished my OND from Yaba Tech. This is the job i do to train myself in school. If I leave this job, there is nothing else for me to do. Government should regulate us and not ban us. We are professionals. This is what we do to feed our families. Where do we go from here,” she lamented.
In his response, Hon. Bisi Yusuff representing Alimosho Constituency 1, who spoke on behalf of the Speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, commended the protesters for peaceful demonstration, but urged them to abide with the new ban pending when the state government will decide on their request.
” Protest is an ingredient of democracy. We commend you for peaceful demonstration. We will go through your petition.
“However we urge you to keep cool and keep to the law until we call you back. Government has made pronouncement on the issue. Don’t allow anybody to hijack the protest because you will be held responsible for it. Very soon, we will call you. Maintain the law. It is when government see your conduct, they will know what to do,” he said.
It will be recalled that the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, announced earlier this week that the government would enforce the ban on motorcycles and tricycles in six local government areas, as well as major highways and bridges from February 1.
He explained that the decision was taken after a robust assessment of the debate on the rate of accidents in Lagos, saying security and safety of the lives of the residents were paramount.
He also warned that all offenders and violators would be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the state.