The Lagos State government is determined to ban commercial motorcycles popularly referred to as Okada from operating in most major roads in the Lagos due to overcrowding and safety concerns. This policy would affect how thousands of Lagosians who commute.
The government announced on Twitter that it would ban motorcycles from operating in most parts of Lagos because of their “chaos and disorderliness” and astronomic rise in the “scary figures” of fatal accidents.
Companies such as Max.ng, Oride and Gokada have sought to leverage the city’s teeming population to expand their operations are concerned about the future of their enterprise.
Lagos State government justified the ban which will come into force on February 1 by citing a 2018 law which bars okada and small three-wheeled vehicles popularly referred Keke from operating in virtually all the main commercial and residential neighbourhoods. Only one major area, far west of central Lagos, was not listed.
Lagosians received the news with mixed reactions as many expressed their disapproval of the policy citing intense congestion issues that regularly trapped larger vehicles for hours on gridlock.
Lagos resident Emeka Chikezie said the government could not offer an alternative to okadas and kekes – which are often his only option to get to work on time. “Whatever the plan is, it’s not going to be good enough,” he said.
Co founder of Max.ng, Chinedu Azodo, said their bikes are above the 200 cubic centimeter engine size banned under the law, and that he had not heard directly from the government. But a ban, he said, amounted to “a restriction on poor people.
The Lagos state Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso while addressing the issue said the ban would affect all passenger companies and only courier service companies would be exempt from the ban. He said of the commercial motorcycle companies, “They have been found to have become part of the problem they set out to resolve”.
Max.ng, which also operates in Kano, Ibadan and Akure in Nigeria, had an investment around last year that raised more than $5 million.
Gokada Founder Fahim Saleh said their company raised $5 million last year for its Lagos operations and their bikes are also above 200cc; he was not sure about the impact of the ban on them.
“It’s disappointing,” he said, adding they would seek to expand its operations in courier and logistics services. “We don’t know how it’s going to be enforced.”
ORide, part of OPay in which Norwegian software firm Opera Limited has an equity interest, also offers ride-hailing motorcycles in Lagos.