The Lagos State Government has given commercial motorcycle riders (okada) in the state a 21-day ultimatum to vacate all restricted routes in the metropolis.
The state government met with the riders’ unions in Lagos on Thursday at the State Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, southwest Nigeria where they were told to vacate the roads.
Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Tunji Bello who chaired the meeting told newsmen that government had decided to give the riders a 21-day ultimatum for the unions to sensitise their members to vacate the restricted routes before enforcement would begin.
“We just held a meeting with the okada unions on what should be done; we have held meeting with security agencies before now. Recently, we noticed resurgence of okada riders going back to their old ways.
“Some of them even ride one way on Apapa Expressway. When you go to Apapa, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Gbagada, and others, you will see them. We have to call them to let them know.
“The complaint was that when the election was coming, there was relaxation and they went back. They thought there had been relaxation of the law. They asked us to give them sometime. We felt there was need for two weeks of enlightenment, but they said it was too short. They asked for two months till August and we said no, we can only give three weeks maximum because we are not doing anything new. What we are doing is to enforce the law, it is not that we are re-enacting the law,” he said.
Bello said when the law was introduced in 2012, okada accidents dropped, as many hospitals felt the relief, saying that Igbobi and LUTH no longer have lots of okada accident patients.
“We are not going back to that era again. Three weeks is not small, they have to go and enlighten their members on the need to leave the road. We are not going back on enforcement, we need to save members of the public and the only way to do that is to restrict the riders,” he added.
The SSG stated that enforcement was relaxed during the last elections so that political parties would not capitalise on the enforcement for cheap political gains.
“We relaxed during the elections because we didn’t want crisis and violence and to avoid exploitation by political parties. The enforcement will be in full force after three weeks,” he said.
He said three weeks was enough time for the riders to adjust so that government would not have to spend much money on enforcement.
“These are laws already in place and they have to obey. It is just that we have relaxed and members of the public have started feeling the pains. Go and see lots of violation between Okota and Mile 2 now, some of them have started colliding with cars, we cannot continue,” he said.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Oluseyi Coker said “we are doing this so that when we start enforcement, they will not say government is doing this and that. The violation is much and we want to call the unions together to give them opportunity to say their mind.
“The Lagos State Government will do it right. We assure that there will be withdrawal and after that if you want to test the power of government, we will deal with such.”