Lagos, the City of Excellence witnessed relative calm on most of its roads, as the enforcement of the ban on commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada, took effect in some parts of the state.
The state government had banned Okada in six local government areas of Lagos State and their local council development areas just as it inaugurated Anti-Okada Squad to enforce the ban starting yesterday.
The local governments and their local council development areas are Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Apapa, and Surulere.
Vanguard monitored the enforcement in some of the prohibited routes between the hours of 7 am and 2 pm and the result was that there was 99 percent compliance within the period.
In some of the places visited, some road users expressed satisfaction at the level of the compliance which they said had minimized traffic jams in the areas.
However, some of them expressed fear that the ban may not be sustained by the government.
Vanguard started her monitoring from Ikorodu/Mile 12 down to Ketu Ojota to Oshodi where residents applauded the enforcement as the riders have vacated the major routes,
Although Ikorodu is not part of the six local governments and their councils where the ban was effected some leaders of commercial motorcycles operators in the area said they have taken it upon themselves to effects the ban on major roads, especially from Garage to Ogolonto, and Mile 12 due to public outcry.
Some of the leaders were seen collaborating with local security personnel to enforce the ban.
Vanguard observed total compliance from Anthony on Ikorodu Road to Fadeyi as well as Oshodi, Ikeja-Along to Dopemu Under bridge on Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway where the riders were completely out of sight.
Reports from Ikoyi to Third Mainland Bridge down to Gbagada and Iyana-Ipaja to Abule-Egba, Ijaiye, Amadiya, Kola, Mosalasi down to Toll Gate, Durban Bus Stop, Festac First Gate, Second Gate, Mile 2 Expressway to Abule-Ado were impressive in the course of this report.
Throughout the monitoring by Vanguard, different teams of law enforcement operatives were sighted patrolling the areas.
The same was witnessed from Oshodi to Mile 2 especially Second Rainbow and Mile 2 which were usually seen as the hub of commercial motorcycle operators in the axis.
Although many residents and road users lauded the ban few people said it led to trekking long distances, especially in areas where road rehabilitation or construction was ongoing.
At Dopemu Under bridge, an entrepreneur Mr. Adebola Adio said that he daily patronizes Okada from Sango\Tollgate to Iyana-Dopemu in order to beat traffic but said he will adjust to the ban this time around, ‘’To be late is better than to be sorry. Not that I am satisfied with the patronage but that is the only option I have to keep my job. We all know the level of traffic jam on Lagos\Abeokuta Expressway, please, help tell the government to ensure that the road is always free,’’ he said.
At Oshodi-Isale, a public servant Andrew Osinaga urged the state government to sustain the enforcement so that Lagos can retain her position as the Center of Excellence, ‘’I have never supported Okada operations in this state and I blame the government for tolerating their menace for so long. I hope what we are witnessing today will be sustained.’’
Another respondent, Chukwuemeka Godwin said he has made up his mind to patronizing Okada on major roads, ‘’I made the resolution today and will never return to it. Look, we are not doing ourselves any favour by patronizing Okada and can do without them as far as I am concerned.’’
Why erring operators persist – Investigations
At some of the places visited, some riders were seen violating the law although investigation revealed that this was in collaboration with some unscrupulous element among security personnel who have devised various means to interrupt the enforcement.
For instance, it was learnt that the unscrupulous element have issued a code called ‘Baba TP’ or TP which full interpretations mean, ‘’Baba Task Force’’ or ‘’Task Force’’ to the erring motorcycle operators to prevent them from being arrested by law enforcement operatives.
Investigations revealed that some motorcycle operators have the code boldly written on their jackets or motorcycles so that they can easily be noticed by any enforcement team.
With the code, the riders are expected to remit a weekly or monthly sum to the coffers of these collaborators who will reciprocate by using their connections to bail the motorcycles in case they are impounded.
Investigations revealed that the amount to be remitted depends on the location and hours of operations depending on the agreement reached with them.
It was learnt that some security personnel are already familiar with the codes which are expected to be mentioned upon the arrival of the enforcement team at any location particularly Lagos\Ibadan Expressway.