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Commercial motorcycle operators protest against police harassment after police start to enforce new Lagos state traffic law
| October 23, 2012
Commercial motorcycle operators in Lagos state, popularly known as okada riders, went on a rampage to protest against police harassment after the new Lagos state traffic law which bans them from 475 roads in the state, went into effect. The protesting riders disrupted activities and destroyed property, including BRT buses, around the Onipanu, Fadeyi, Mushin and Ijora areas of Lagos State. On August 2, 2012, the Lagos state government signed the new Lagos State traffic law and the law restricts the commercial motorcycle from plying on 475 roads in Lagos - bridges, expressways and double-carriage roads. On Monday, Oct 22nd, the police began enforcing the new law and also seized some motorcycles. However the Okada riders complain that the police were only harrassing them and using the law as an oportunity to extort money from them. They claim that policemen are arresting them on back roads and claiming that they were arrested on the expressway so that they can get money from them. The protests started in the early hours of Monday with hundreds of Okada riders riding down Ikorodu Road around Onipanu, chanting anti-government slogans and calling for a reversal of the new traffic law. The protest started peacefully but got violent when the motorcyclists started vandalising BRT buses. The police responded to the violence and some were seen shooting in the air while the protesters fled the scene. There were also unconfirmed reports that some of the operators were arrested. The Lagos State Police command confirmed the protests, saying the police had restored order and urged residents to continue their normal activities without fear. Meanwhile, the Lagos State House of Assembly Monday condemned the violent protests and threatened to ban operators totally if they failed to abide by the road traffic law or continue destroying government property.

(6) Comment


"The views and opinions expressed in these comment(s) or article(s) do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of NGEX, its partners or its affiliates."
OMOTAYO, J. A.    Lagos, NIGERIA    November 03, 2012
Mr. OBJ, why would you support a programme that is illegal, unconstitutional, statistically raw, economically disastrous, democratically unpopular, socially destructive and management time wasting? With the level of knowledge now available, I find it untoward and unbecoming of any elite worth his calling to support this trajectory to failure and loss. I shall write another long essay on this issue. God save Nigeria.
OBJ    HOUSTON,TEXAS, USA    October 30, 2012
Mr. Omatoya, as I said previously you are wrong and you are still wrong. I admire your writings, but you got this one wrong. To start with, I don't live in Lagos as you stated, or am I from the west; I am indigene of Imo State who happens to appreciate quality changes when I see one. The policy making in Nigeria cannot be based solely on its adverse affect on some factions of the society rather it must be based on positives that will go from it. Street trading and commercial use of motorcycles must be outlawed not just in Lagos but across the nation. The State of Lagos has taken the lead and must not be crucified regardless of how our less knowledgeable indigenes feel about it.

However, I am for providing alternative for those whose means of economic well being is disrupted. In my previous post I stated examples of trade skills that may serve as alternative. It is available in the developed nations, and should be made available to Nigerians as well. We need citizens with technical skills, and not okada operators. It ought to be banned and there is absolutely no constitutional question that should associate with this law. The governor must not back down as it will set a bad precedent.

God bless Nigeria.
OMOTAYO, J. A.    Lagos, NIGERIA    October 27, 2012
Many thanks for your courage, Mr. OBJ. I can understand the difference between our perceptions. It is like one Galileo viewing a distant star with his telescope and another scientist viewing an adjoining amoeba with his microscope. The telescope is incapable of detecting an amoeba let alone analysing it. You are situated in far away Houston, Texas in the US while I am situated close by in Agege, Lagos in Nigeria. Your views are largely those presented by pampered media men, political associates, contractors and suppliers.

Until the governor is out of office, they shall continue to sign his praises. My views on the other hand are based on the talks and reactions of the traders, school children, market women, pregnant women, markers, sales representatives, the elderly, etc who need to move from one location in the city to another. They are the ones made to suffer by their elected governor. This is the irony.

I shall endeavour to write a much more comprehensive article on this issue to proof that the actions of the Lagos State Government in this regard are undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional. But before then, I want you to have it on record that if a referendum were to be conducted today on whether Mr. Fashola should continue as a governor or not in Lagos State, I am sure he cannot get 40% yes. If he continues with the way he is conducting the affairs of the State without any regard to the plight of the poor, I state again that the ACN, his party, cannot and will not win the next governorship election in the State.

Finally, I like to repeat that I am not a member of any political party and I have never attended any political meeting in my life. I am not a member of any religious group. I am not a member of any socio-cultural organisation. My views are unbiased and are based on facts. When I wrote that Mr. Obasanjo could be humiliated after leaving office, one writer commented that his passing through a traffic hold up in Lagos without any embarrassment proved me wrong.

Soon after, he alighted from his vehicle at Sango Otta but his own people threw black sachets of water at him. I was not there when it happened but I had the news.

It is in the interest of the Lagos State Government to listen to the voice(s) that can guide her aright but not mere praise signers that would lead her astray. I have no cause to mislead. The oracle has spoken.

God save Nigeria.
OBJ    HOUSTON TEXAS, USA    October 25, 2012
Mr. Omotayo, with all due respect you are absolutely wrong. I admire your views, but this does not reflect your objective views. There is nothing wrong with the law. Motorcycles are not intended for commercial use and must be gradually outlawed for that purpose.

The State of Lagos is dynamic and must continue to teach the rest of the nation how to move forward. However, I agree with you that the Okada operators economic means has been disruptive without providing adequate alternative to make decent living. But we must l learn to adapt whenever our cheese is moved. This traffic law is needed for the advancement of the state.

I would like to see the state of Lagos, and the Federal government to build trade schools where these Okada operators can go and acquire technical skills that will serve as a better alternative to their current profession. Trade schools will provide great opportunities for millions of Nigerians and take them off the streets. These skills include but not limited to automobile, electrical, air condition, building construction, and industrial skills to name but a few. Trade schools are in developed nations, and should be made available to Nigerians to acquire the technical skills that they need and improve their economic viability.
OMOTAYO, J. A.    Lagos, NIGERIA    October 24, 2012
The new laws are not only anti-people but anti-progressive. They are highly destructive and one wonders whether lawyers in Nigeria are politically competent to lead this nation. When Mbadinuju was Governor in Anambra State, the state behace a hell. It went from crises to crises. When El-Rufai became the FCT Minister, the little elements of lawyer in him caused the territory to become another hell. Houses were demolished at great costs on his order. This is exactly what Mr. Fashola, another lawyer, is doing in Lagos.

Laws have been rolled out as if he is dealing with machines, but not human beings. How many roads are in the State that 475 roads must be banned from Okada riders? How many Lagosians have vehicles to convey them to their various destinations that a government would sign into law such an unreasonable and destructive edict?

I need to find time to address this critical issue. The Okada riders are Nigerians doing legitimate businesses after government has down-sized or right-sized them out of their previous employments. If government cannot help them, I do not think that government should compound their problems.

There have been many traffic problems that the government fails to address in the right manner. Oshodi market was once demolished because government believed it was the cause of hold ups. Yet traffic jams have not left the State. Workshops, market stores, etc have been pulled down on the orders of government putting many families into financial crises. Yet the cost of education at the tertiary level has gone up from between N25,000 and N45,000 to between N250,000 to N400,000 in the State.

There is a lot to write about. Mr. Fashola should note that history has a way of judging leaders who make life unbearable for the poor and the under-privileged. He may not know that his actions are destructive because of the praise signers who surround him now. But the truth will come out the very day he steps out of office.

Before closing up this comment, I also do not support the destruction of properties carried out by the angry Okada riders. Those involved in such acts should be made to face the law. A peaceful protest is, in my opinion, sufficient to pass the message that the new traffic laws in the State should be abrogated immediately. Well-meaning Nigerians must come out to tell, persuade or prevail on the Lagos State government to reverse her direction before it will be too late.

God save Nigeria
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