Lagos: Party wants halt to impounding of motorcycles
By Nsikan Ikpe
The Lagos State Executive of the National Conscience Party, NCP has taken exception to the impounding of motorcycles, aka Okada by the State Government Task Force, saying that it is unfair and ill-timed.
In a statement signed by its Chairman, Comrade Fatai Ibu-Owo and Publicity and Publications Director, Comrade Sonaike Sakiru Sowunmi, the party took exception to the government permitting elite motorcycle hailing outfits as O’Pay and Gokada to continue running the bike-hailing business without molestation while making it difficult and impossible for the smaller and less-endowed operators to do business in the state.
They would also want a new negotiated arrangement that would take into consideration the economic circumstances that have continued to prompt the mass of those who go into this line of business to return again and again to it
The full text of the statement reads:
‘UNFAIR IMPOUNDMENT OF COMMERCIAL MOTORCYCLE (OKADA) BY LAGOS STATE TASK FORCE UNDER THE SANWO-OLU-LED GOVERNMENT IN LAGOS STATE.
The attention of the National Conscience Party (NCP) Lagos State has been drawn to draconian and anti-masses policy made by the Sanwo-Olu APC-led administration on the impoundment of commercial motorcycle (Okada) in Lagos state which is totally unfair & ill-timed on the voiceless Lagosians. It appears that while there are graduates among the okada riders, most of the riders possess unquestionable educational qualification and have become responsive to the state laws and safety regulations.
The collapse of public intra-city transport system paved way for the rise of motorcycles as means of public transportation in Lagos. Popularly referred to as Okada, motorcycles are used for public transportation in every nook and cranny of Lagos state which has impacted significantly on the economy and society.
Economically, the okada operators rely solely on their motorcycles as the means of their livelihood and source of employment which is their way of bucking saying that “An idle hand is the devil’s workshop”.
Therefore, we (NCP) opine that government should appreciate the complementary role the commercial motorcyclists play to ease public transportation for the multitude of Lagos residents who patronize the Okada operators for their services. Government should be blamed for not living up to their responsibility because of its failure to fix numerous bad roads which are obstacles to smooth flow of traffic within the megacity region.
The outright ban of okada riders isn’t an option the state government should opt for as a way of bringing sanity to our roads in the state while neglecting the fact that the insecurity might upsurge due to the subject matter. Meanwhile, if the O’Pay riders are been allowed to ply the federal and state roads, what is wrong with an ordinary Okada rider doing the same, for what is good for the geese is also good for the gender “bo lobo se sori ti inaki ose”. Many of the new operators cite joblessness, tough economic environment, among others, as reasons for taking to commercial motorcycle business.
We (NCP) plead passionately on behalf of the voiceless Lagosians with the government not to kill a fly with a sledgehammer. Such draconian policy will have dire consequences on the economic front, hype unemployment and aggravate insecurity in Lagos state.
Many of these riders purchased their okada via loans and higher purchase schemes. Now, they are highly indebted to the lenders, where are they going to get the money to pay up their debts?
The government should look for a proper means of regulating the activities of the Okada operators and ensuring that they operate much like the elite O’Pay, Gokada and Maxokada and so on through which it could enforce the laws and generate revenues as they pay various dues to their unions.
Another alternative solution is for government to liaise with O’Pay management and those of other cab hailing service providers to take over all impounded Okadas and rebrand them to meet the desired standards and then returning them to their various owners. Arrangements can then be made for the operators to pay back the refurbishing and branding costs on an installmental basis to the management of the bike hailing firms.’