No fewer than 400,000 motorcyclists, known as Okada, may be out of jobs this week, as the Lagos State Government launches a new transportation policy on Tuesday.
Also, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is expected to make a crucial announcement on Okada operation in the state.
Financial Street investigation reveals that the state government will be rolling out the first 500 ‘First and Last Mile’ buses same day to ply the routes currently open to Okada.
An official of the state’s Ministry of Transportation, who doesn’t want his name in print, said over the weekend that no Okada must, henceforth, be sighted in the Lagos metropolis after the launch, adding that the scheme would signify total eradication of commercial motorcycle operation in the state.
According to the source, as more buses are rolled out across routes in Lagos, that means Okada is gone forever.
Meanwhile, more than 300 Okada have been reportedly impounded by the state authorities in the last three weeks, in preparation for the new scheme.
Asked if the government is planning to engage some of the motorcyclists in the new initiative, the source said they were not part of the programme, adding that before now, they were asked to form themselves into a cooperative under the National Union of the Road Transport Workers, to see other initiatives of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority they could key into, but they allegedly refused.
The spokesperson of LAMATA, Mr Kolawole Ojelabi, said more information about the new buses replacing Okada on Lagos routes would be communicated by the time Governor Sanwo-Olu launches the initiative on Tuesday.
Although, this is not the first time the state would be pronouncing ban on Okada in the metropolis, it is the first time an immediate alternative is being provided.
In an interview, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, hinted that it was already bad news for Okada riders in the state who, over time, had become notorious for deadly mob actions, jungle justice and nuisance.
In 2012, former Governor Babatunde Fashola signed into law the Lagos Road Traffic Law 2012, which restricts Okada operation in at least 492 of the 9,200 roads across the metropolis.Today, the operators have returned to all the roads they were banned from with ferocious impunity.
The law spells out the offences and punishments attached.
Specifically, Section 3 (1) of the traffic law prohibits the riding, driving or propelling of a cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on the major highways in Lagos.
Fashola had lamented the rampant accidents caused by Okada. Records show that in 2012, Lagos had 2,555 accidents within five months, out of which Okada accounted for 1,762 (69 per cent).
The National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, now has a ward dedicated to Okada accident victims.
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