– Insist they maintain the routes stipulated in the New Lagos Traffic Law
– Groan as LASTMA, OP MESA, FRSC charge them heavily
Commercial motorcyclists, popularly called okada riders, have refuted claims in some quarters that they have overrun the Lagos metropolis by plying routes outlawed by the New Lagos State Traffic Law.
This much they said when ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with a cross section of them they insisted that they have maintained the routes they are allowed according to the law, despite the general elections in February this year.
The Lagos State Traffic Law enacted in 2012, among other provisions, prohibits operations of okada riders on 475 routes, including major highways, bridges and important roads in all the 57 local councils within the nation’s commercial capital as well as during specific hours (especially at night) in most areas within Lagos.
The restriction, the state government said at the time, was a necessity considering the rate at which motorcycles get involved in road accidents and are also used to perpetrate crimes in the state.
Three years after, however, the okada riders maintained they have accepted their fate and despite the inconveniences of the law, they have not overrun Lagos, contrary to the belief of some. Here are their responses when our correspondents spoke with them on the matter…
BAKARE (Berger-Ojodu area)
It’s the unemployment situation in this country that made me to go riding okada, if not, why would anybody want to be an okada rider? I am pleading with the government to change this law because now, we don’t make money as we used to.
We operate within the streets only and we only get small money from that, not like before. Yes, some of our members used to drive on the express and they don’t disturb us like before, I think it’s because of the elections.
We face a lot of problems. Police from different divisions even LASTMA, OP MESA, all of them collect from us. All I want is that government should allow us do as before. If they allow us, we would not cause any problem. There is no money in the streets they allow us to ply. If you carry somebody from his house to the bus stop, he will give you N50 or N100, is that what will feed me and my family?
INNOCENT (Caterpillar area, Ogba)
Everyday police come to our park to collect money. Sometimes they collect more than we make in a day. If say na before wey we dey get plenty money, we for no mind. But since when them don say make we no dey drive for express, make we dey for only streets, we no dey make too much money like before. But still the police go come collect everything. I don’t have another work.
AYODEJI (Thomas Salako, Ogba)
We only operate within the streets, but still police people from different divisions like RRS 262, even OP MESA come to our park here every day to collect money from us. Sometimes, we give them N500, N1000 each okada rider. Even after they collect money, they do not allow us cross the road.
MRS. FADIPE (Ticket seller, Ogba)
Them dey collect money by force, dem still no go let them drive for express. Please, Lagos state government should warn all the security agents to stop collecting money from okada riders for every small thing. Haha! It is not good.
MR. GBOLAHAN (Pen-Cinema, Agege)
I am a graduate, if not for the fact that there is no job, I wouldn’t be a motorcyclist and the police will not be harassing and collecting money from me for no offence. They say we should not carry passengers or ride on the express, we have complied, still they will not let us have peace. The situation of this country is really bad.
MR. EMEKA (Berger-Ojodu)
Every day, early in the morning around 10, the first set of police will come to collect money from us. For what, I don’t know. Another set will come in the afternoon and another one in the evening, everyday like that! Whether we ride on in the express or not, they will still collect their everyday money from us.
MR. RAZAK (Pen-Cinema, Agege)
We respect ourselves and operate in the streets like the government said we should. We avoid the highways because I know that it is dangerous for okada to be dragging the road with cars; but yet, especially the police seize our bikes.
They come with their patrol vans, and load our bikes in them, if you don’t pay, you won’t get it back.
MR. LATEEF (Pen-Cinema, Agege)
All I want is that the government should intervene in this matter and help us because we are dying slowly. Most of my friends who we used to operate okada together have sold their machines. Ha! There is no money in it again.
Before, we can get N300, sometimes more when we carry passengers to far places, but now we only get N50 or N100, highest you collect N150 if it is in rainy season or there is no bus, you know people will be rushing okada.
– MICHAEL NWOKIKE, OYINDAMOLA ADEPOJU and TEMITOPE OYEDELE