By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
Lagos State Government has reiterated its position of not going back on enforcement of the ban on commercial motorcycles, otherwise known as Okada, in four additional Local Government Areas (LGAs) and six Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), in addition to those earlier announced.
The warning is coming few hours before commencement of the ban.
The government vowed that it is not going to compromise on enforcement of the decision, warning that both riders and passengers caught violating the law were liable to three years each in prison if prosecuted, while the affected motorcycles would be impounded and crushed in public view.
It would be recalled that the additional LGs are: Kosofe, Oshodi-Isolo, Shomolu and Mushin, with the affected LCDAs including Ikosi-Isherri, Agboyi-Ketu, Isolo, Ejigbo, Bariga and Odi-Olowo.
The state government had earlier placed a ban on okada activities in six LGs and nine LDAs, making a total of 10LGs and 15LCDAs.
The State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederick Oladeinde, made this vow while giving an update on the ban at a press briefing which took place at Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, Ikeja, saying the punishment for would-be violators of the directive is in line with the provision of Section 46, sub-section 1, 2 & 3 of the Transport Sector Reform Law (TSRL), 2018.
The Commissioner, who spoke at the joint briefing, with his Information counterpart, Mr Gbenga Omotoso; Special Adviser on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa, among others in attendance, said the state government under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had made itself very clear on the decision, and, therefore, directed the Nigeria Police Force, and the Lagos Command with all relevant stakeholders, including the Army, Navy, Air force, among others within the state, to be complimented by the “Anti-Okada Squad” to stimulate seamless implementation and enforcement of the phase 2 ban of okada operations in the state.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the decision and position of the government on okada are very clear, and we are not compromising on this decision which is to further consolidate on the achievements made so far with particular reference to decrease in accident and crime rates as well as the return of sanity to our communities within the state.
“Permit me to also remind you that the state government has directed the Nigeria Police Force, and the Lagos Command with all relevant Stakeholders’ (i.e Army, Navy, Air force, other Security and Law enforcement formations within the State) to be complimented by the “Anti-Okada Squad,” be deployed to these new locations in a bid to stimulate seamless implementation and enforcement of the phase 2 ban of okada operations in the state.
“We implore the general public to comply as both the rider and passenger are both liable to 3 years in prison if prosecuted, while their motorcycles will be impounded and crushed in the public view, in line with the provision of Section 46, sub-section 1, 2 & 3 of the Transport Sector Reform Law (TSRL), 2018,” he said.
The Commissioner, while calling for public support on the enforcement gave out some helplines for complaints and feedback, including 09038208154, 09169655855, 09034810155, and 09033090826.
“Finally, we implore the general public to join hands together with the state government by complying with the decision of the government geared towards combating the monster that okada operation has created, so that sanity can return to our state,” he pleaded.
Speaking on the efforts by the state government to cater to the need of the commuters that would be affected by the ban, Oladeinde said the government was not leaving them stranded without any viable means of transportation.
According to him, the Governor Sanwo-Olu administration as a responsible one has “made available alternative and sustainable means of transportation such as the First and Last Mile Bus Transport Scheme, the BRT Scheme, the Lagos e-hailing taxi Scheme (LAGRIDE) and other acceptable modes of transportation to go about their daily activities.”
“As for the riders, we have also made available existing interventions aimed at empowering citizens as an alternative means of livelihood.
“These interventions are coordinated by the following MDAs: Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA);(vocational training) Ministry of Wealth Creations and Employment;(internship programmes) Office of Civic Engagement; Office of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) (Loan for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs, Lagos Economic Acceleration Programme “LEAP”); Ministry of Agriculture (Agric YES); Ministry of Education (CodeLagos Scheme) and many others,” the commissioner stated.
Also speaking, Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa, said the stage was now set for enforcement of the ban, adding: “We appeal to the riders to steer clear of the affected areas in the state.”
This was just as he disclosed that contacts had been made to the headship of the okada riders to supply names of the affected riders for possible enrolment for training and empowerment in the state agencies charged with skill acquisition.
The Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr Abiodun Alabi represented by Elizabeth Opadunni, assured Lagosians of enforcement of the ban, saying all hands were on the deck for its total implementation.
“We assure Lagosians, we are ready. All hands are the deck for total enforcement,” he said.