Author Topic: Banning commercial motorcycles on Lagos highway  (Read 6834 times)

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Offline happyboss

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THE decision by the Lagos State Government to enforce all traffic rules and regulations pertaining to the use of commercial motorcycles popularly called okada is a welcome development. In our previous editorial on the issue, we lauded the move on the ground that okada operators have indeed become a menace. It is alleged by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and other agencies that most accidents on the roads are caused by okada besides being used by criminals to perpetrate crime.
  It is not surprising, therefore, that the Lagos State Government, in apparent frustration with this mode of transportation, has placed a ban on the operation of commercial motorcycles on all major highways and other designated parts of the city with effect from 1st September. This may be a prelude to a total ban of commercial motorcycles in the state as already canvassed by the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo.
  The latest directive is sequel to a series of stakeholder-meetings between state government officials and members of the various transport unions, including commercial motorcyclists. According to the Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who addressed stakeholders at the Lagos Television (LTV), Agidingbi Road the other week, the measures are meant  to protect lives and property. The forbidden routes for commercial motorcycles in the Lagos Island, Ikoyi and Victoria Island axis include the entire Lagos CBD, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Awolowo Road, Bourdillon Road, Gerard Avenue, Alexander Road, Osborne Road, Alfred Rewane Road and CMS. In the Lagos Mainland are the entire stretch of Funsho Williams Avenue, Eko Bridge, Apongbon, Muritala Muhammed Way, from Jibowu to Yaba, Oyingbo, Iddo, Idumota and Ikorodu Road up to Ikorodu town Roundabout. The rest include the entire stretch of the Third Mainland Bridge from the Toll Gate, Badagry Road, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, the entire network of roads around the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, Awolowo Road, Mobolaji Bank Anthony road down to Maryland junction, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway/Agege Motor Road – the stretch from Moshalashi to Oshodi – Abule Egba, Boundary of Ogun and Lagos State and all Lagos bridges.
Among other rules to be enforced are: henceforth, motorcycle operators are expected to have valid rider’s licence. The motorcycles should be properly registered. There must be no commercial motorcycles on the roads beyond 8.00pm in Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Ikeja and 10.00pm in other areas. Both the rider and the passenger must wear standard crash helmets. The motorcycle must not be used to carry load, or more than a passenger at a time, pregnant women, school children and women with babies strapped to their back. Commercial motorcycles must obey all traffic laws and regulations and must not ride against traffic.
  It is obvious from the foregoing that the intention is to restrict commercial motorcycles to the neighbourhoods. Interestingly, military authorities including the Navy, Air Force and Nigeria Police have pledged their support and have ordered their personnel to help enforce the new regulations.   Despite its perceived benefits, the use of motorcycles as a commercial means of transportation has already been banned in Abuja FCT, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Calabar based on the same reasons the Lagos State Government has offered. Hopefully, the rules will be enforced and not become a fresh avenue for law enforcement agencies to extort money from commercial motorcyclists.  This is the major pitfall that the authorities should guide against.
  The enforcement of the rules and regulations will be a major challenge; before now all extant laws in this regard have been routinely observed in the breach, hopefully enforcement will be effective this time around. The relevant laws include the Road Traffic Act Cap 548, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1949; the Federal Road Safety Commission Act Cap 141, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990; and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority Law 2004, among others.
In enforcing the laws however, every effort must be made to ensure that this does not end up as an exercise in undue harassment of hapless motorcyclists who to all intents and purposes are victims of larger dislocations within the polity: unemployment and the lack of an effective mass transit system.  What has been described loosely as the menace of the motorcycle phenomenon is merely a symptom of more fundamental problems which on the long run must be addressed by the authorities.
  Given the endemic chaotic traffic situation in Lagos, the restriction of commercial motorcycles would affect millions of commuters who are often forced to patronise them because they practically have no other option. Although the ban is restricted to the metropolis, there are many inaccessible areas of Lagos where there are no proper roads and the only means of access is the motorcycle. The latest directive is likely to put persons in such neighbourhoods under undeserved pressure.   
What the government should do is to provide an alternative to commercial motorcycles. Action should be expedited for example, on the proposed light rail project which may serve as a more effective mass transit system. The use of tricycles, which seem to be safer, may also be promoted.

Offline Perfect
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As it has disadvantage so is the advantage, Government should look towards the advantages and benefits the Okada gives to the citizens and simple put a measure in place to ensure safety. This is only means of income to many families.


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