Wary of the excesses of commercial motorcyclists, who are also known as okada riders, the Lagos State government has finally imposed some restrictions on their operations. One of the restrictions is that okada riders should stop conveying pregnant women, women with babies strapped on their backs as well as school children. The government by this has shown that it cares about the welfare and safety of women and children.

Another significant restriction imposed on the okada riders by the Lagos State government is that they should stop plying dual carriage ways and bridges across the state. Some of the roads that okada riders are banned from plying include all the routes in the Lagos Central Business District, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Bourdillon Road, Gerrrard Avenue, Alexander Road, Osborne Road and Alfred Rewane Road on the Lagos Island. They are to avoid the Third Mainland Bridge, the Jibowu to Ikorodu Roundabout axis of the busy Ikorodu Road and the entire stretch of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

Other routes that are off limits to the okada riders are the entire network of roads around Alausa Secretariat, Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Road to Maryland Junction and Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.

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The enforcement of the ban ban is expected to take effect from 1 July of this year. And Special Adviser to the Lagos State governor on Transportation, Kayode Opeifa, said that government could hardly wait for that day to implement the new rules. Unequivocally, Opeifa stated that “the full enforcement of all road traffic laws and regulations guiding motorcycle operations became necessary because the state government is more than ever committed towards the protection of lives and property of Lagosians.

“Many lives who could contribute meaningfully to the development of the state and the nation are being lost through the menace of commercial motorcycle operators the roads. Henceforth, commercial operators also will be restricted through traffic road signs on some Lagos roads and intersections.”

Opeifa said that government would deal with okada operators who  flout the rules. The move of the state government lays bare its concern for the safety of Lagosians. There is no doubt about it.

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The incessant accidents caused by the recklessness of okada riders as well as the violent crimes perpetrated by those who ride bikes are a grave cause for concern for many residents of the state. It has also been observed that some of the okada riders are not literate. Hence, they cannot decipher or read road signs, thus getting involved in accidents. This category of riders are those from the neighbouring Niger Republic who can barely understand a word in English. The influx of these aliens and riders sacked from Abuja and Cross River State, has led to a huge increase in the number of okada operators in the state. They are so many of them now that they have taken over kerbs, medians, junctions and every conceivable space at bus stops and major highways like Ojota. This makes it difficult for motorists to turn at junctions, thus compunding the traffic congestion at these strategic spots.

A further observation of okada riding Nigeriens in Lekki shows that they contribute money among themselves to raise funds to buy more motorcycles and give them to their fellow citizens who they  invite into the country. It is this kind of development that has necessitated taking radical steps to sanitise the activities of okada riders in Lagos.

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However, to many Lagosians, okada is a necessary evil. This is so because of the absence of many good roads and lack of alternative fast means of transportation to beat the traffic congestion in the city.

If government can expedite action on its light rail project, water transportation  and ensure an efficient taxi system, then we can be sure that the okada mode of transportation will be totally phased out.