The Lagos State Government has ordered commercial motorcycle operators popularly known as okada riders out of the 475 restricted routes across the state in a renewed attempt to check their excesses.
In 2012, the Lagos State Government banned okada riders from plying 475 roads in the metropolis, but in recent time, okada riders are fully back on the restricted routes.
At a news conference in Alausa, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, on Thursday, the government frowned at the rate the riders are flouting the traffic law of the state, saying that government would no longer fold its hands and allow the impunity to continue.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Oluseyi Coker said okada riders are restricted from plying 475 roads out of the 9,100 roads in the metropolis in accordance with the Road Traffic Law of Lagos State.
He said due to the enforcement of the provisions of the 2012 Road Traffic Law, the state witnessed over 81% reduction in the number of motorcycle-related accidents reported in the state’s public health institutions and over 80% reduction in motorcycle-related deaths reported at public hospitals.
He added that okada-related deaths had been drastically reduced from 192 per year to a maximum of 6 per year, saying that “we have saved about 465 lives since October 2012 to date. We have also prevented an average of 476 motorcycle-related injuries monthly and 5,712 yearly. By implication, we have prevented a total of 14,220 motorcycle accident-related injuries since 2012.”
Coker said more recently, there were some months that the casualty rates were as low as zero percent to the extent that the so-called ‘’Okada” wards at some of the state’s public hospitals had become empty.
“However, it is disheartening to see that motorcycle operators have resurfaced on our restricted roads especially in areas such as Ikeja, Isolo, Apapa, Agege, Epe, Ijede, Shomolu/ Bariga, Ifako Ijaiye/ Ojokoro, Ikorodu, Mushin, Ketu, Ojota, Lagos Island, Ojodu and Badagry in spite of the various efforts of the past administrations in the state to ensure that the menace of motorcycle operators is curbed and the rate of accidents, injuries and death is reduced drastically in the state.
“This administration, being a responsive and responsible government committed to the protection of lifes and property, safety of all Lagosians and visitors alike will not fold its hands and allow indiscipline, flagrant disobedience of law and order, loss of lives and property of innocent citizens of the state to continue unabated.
“It is in view of this that I call on the leaders of transport unions and executives of various motorcycle operators (registered and non-registered) to ensure that motorcycle operators strictly adhere to the various laws regulating their operations as contained in Section 3 of the Road Traffic Law as well as desist from plying any of the 475 roads, including highways and bridges restricted for their operations out of the 9, 200 roads in the state. The law on motorcycle operation in the state is sacrosanct.
“Motorcycle operators should please note that henceforth, anyone found to have violated the law shall be dealt with in accordance with the Road Traffic Law, RTL 2012 Section 3 Subsection 5 which stipulates that “Any person who fails to comply with any of the provisions of this Section commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to: imprisonment for a term of three (3) years or render community service in accordance with the provisions of Section 347 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State and have his vehicle forfeited to the state,” he stated.
He said while the Lagos State Government is magnanimous enough not to have outrightly banned motorcycle operations in the state like other states in the federation but rather restricted its activities, the state would not hesitate to deal decisively with any operator who violates thelLaw in order to serve as deterrent to others.
“To those operators who are fond of driving against traffic (one-way), especially on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and Ikorodu road amongst others, I implore you to desist from this dangerous and unlawful act and make the safety of your lives, that of your passengers and other road users to be paramount. Many lives that could contribute meaningfully to the development of the state and that of our country have been lost through this dangerous act.
“The law enforcement agents in the state: the Nigeria Police, Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) have been directed to henceforth ensure full enforcement and zero tolerance.
“In as much as motorcycle is not approved by the State Government as a means of public transportation in the state, I implore Lagosians who are fond of using motorcycle for moving from one place to the other to ensure that they also comply with the law as your safety is our concern. I urge you to cooperate with the State Government, avoid the use of motorcycle on the restricted routes including bridges and highways and wear a standard protective helmet whenever you are to board motorcycle,” he said.
“Above all, do not hesitate to caution the riders whenever they want to flout the law. Lawlessness and disregarding law and order must stop on our roads and this is a collective responsibility of all to ensure that sanity reigns on our roads,” he added.