Informal workers have cautioned Lagos State government to stop its recent attacks on working people, their livelihoods and their communities.
The workers, under the umbrella of the Federation of Informal Workers’ Organisations of Nigeria (FIWON) demanded for a reverse of actions on the recent destruction of 24 waterfront communities and what it considered whimsical ban on Okada and Keke operators in the state, staring from February 1, 2020.
General secretary of FIWON, Gbenga Komolafe, at a media briefing, said 24 communities, mostly in Amuwo Odofin Local Government as well as the Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area of the state have been levelled, leaving thousands of families homeless by a government that swore to provide basic security for them.
“Not only have homes and ancestral landmarks and monuments been destroyed, thousands of livelihoods providing basic subsistence to the residents of these communities have also been destroyed at a time that so many Nigerians are suffering the consequences of mass unemployment. Thousands of children can longer go to school because their schools have been leveled,” he said.
He noted that the reason given for the demolition, that the residents have been engaged in illegal, criminal activities such as oil bunkering and vandalism of NNPC pipelines were baseless as that would not be the first time such would happened.
He lamented that in the past several communities and mechanics’ workshops have been destroyed without any plan in place for resettlement and rehabilitation of innocent people, including the elderly, women and children.
On the ban on Okada and Keke Marwa, Komolafe said both the excuses that they ply highway or as security threat should be blamed on the law enforcement agencies saddled with the responsibility of road traffic management in Lagos.
He lamented the attendant stress and economic loss the ban is causing members of FIWON, whom he claimed comprised over 80 per cent of the adult working population of the state and the public.
The FIWON secretary warned against ethnic profiling that has accompanied the ban as it in itself pose a serious security threat.
“If indeed northern youths have been armed with okada and bombs to unleash mayhem at an appointed time as being alleged in some quarters, just how does a blanket ban now stop them from detonating their bombs?,” he queried.
He also raised concerns on the underfunding of Lagos State public education system which he said presently is still largely understaffed and overpopulated by children of the poor.
He stated, “Too many of these children and young people are dropping out of these schools and getting recruited into dangerous cult groups en-masse. This is perhaps the number one security threat faced by Lagos today!”
He however called on the Lagos State government to unveil its much talked about transportation policy for input by informed members of the public, stating that policies are meant to serve people and not the other way.
He added that, “There is a necessity for a sustainable multi-modal transport system incorporating safe water transportation, completion of abandoned rail projects and integration of keke and okada transport modes in the inner communities of Lagos. A reasonable and sustainable transport system should reflect the primitive transport infrastructures and predominant informal economy status of Lagos State.”