By Lukman Olabiyi
Coalition of civil society organisations (CSO), under the umbrella of Defend Lagos Coalition (DLC), has thrown its weight behind the Lagos State Government’s ban on commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada, on all highways across the six local government areas (LGAs) and nine local council development areas (LCDAs) of the state.
Led by the National Coordinator, Activists for Good Governance, the DLC, at a press conference, yesterday, said there was “immediate need for a total clampdown on commercial motorcycles (Okada) operations in Lagos State.”
The group urged Lagos residents to join in demanding a total clampdown on motorcycles.
Ihekaire said: “We have, therefore, come together, today, to ask Lagosians to join us in demanding from the Lagos State government, a total clampdown on motorcycles (okada) as a means of transportation in every nook and cranny of the state.”
He stated that a collective action, which requires the input of all true Lagosians, was needed to eradicate the menace of Okada in the state.
While applauding, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the bold step in announcing the ban on Okada operations in six local government council areas and LCDAs, Ihekaire added that the “governor has shown, without any doubt, that he is a dutiful servant of the people who is ever-ready to listen and carry out the people’s desires, in line with his constitutional mandate.”
Ihekaire, who, however, said that “Lagosians have, on a daily basis, experienced several threats to lives and property, flagrant disobedience of the laws of the land by the ‘army’ of undocumented commercial motorcycle operators, who have laid siege to Lagos State, added that “the sense of insecurity convened by these dare-devil riders should not be allowed to continue.”
He noted that the conference was called to address the crucial issue which affects the collective existence of people living in Lagos State.
Lamenting that artisans and able-bodied Nigerian youths have abandoned their trained jobs to become emergency Okada riders, the group’s spokesman added that, “youths are no longer interested in vocational training to earn a decent and enduring living; rather, they have taken to riding Okada to make “quick” money with the attendant risk to their lives.”
Ihekaire said the group, as grassroots-based organisations, had “in the past couple of months, conducted independent surveys, which revealed that not only are majority of the motorcycle riders foreigners from countries such as Republic of Chad, Niger Republic and other neighbouring countries, we were also able to establish that they constitute a very potent risk to lives and properties of Lagosians. They must be stopped before it is too late.’’