It was a bright morning on the 3rd of February 2020. Like every other Monday, I dragged myself off my bed to prepare for work. By the time I was done, I was running late as usual. As I hastily walked down to the bus stop, thoughts of the recent ban on Okadas and tricycles in 6 local government in Lagos (Apapa, L/Mainland, Surulere, Eti Osa, L/Island, Ikeja), which was put into implementation two days ago came to mind but I just said to myself “we go dey alright”. How terribly wrong I was.
I got to the bus stop at Bamishile, Ikeja already sweaty and eager to get to work. At first, everything looked normal until I began to notice the number of people waiting alongside me. “This is definitely going to take a while”, I said to myself. A while turned out to be a 20 minutes jog all the way to school. I went bonkers when I got to school. “how can the government be so insensitive to the plight of its citizens’, I fumed. Alas, I ended up trudging sadly all the way back home after work, and on the way back, I heard two persons lamenting on how they have been dismissed from work.
I have read several articles, some trying to justify the actions of the Lagos State Government. So, let us take a pause and consider the rationality of the Government action.
- Lagos state’s commissioner for information and strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, said the ban was needed because of deaths, accidents and disorderliness caused by motorbike taxis, popularly known as “Okada,” and commercial tricycles, known as “Keke Napep.”
- According to the state commissioner for transport, Frederic Oladeinde, from 2016-2019, Lagos recorded a total of 10,000 road accidents involving motorcycles and tricycles. Out of the 10,000, there have been 600 recorded deaths.
- The Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu responded to the outcry by announcing that a fleet of 65 buses will be deployed along major routes. This, of course, was after the lamentations and criticism.
Lagos Okada-KekeNapep Ban: The Truth. Now let us consider the rationality of the ban excuses:
- It should not be the duty of the citizens to try to understand what the Government wants, rather, it is the duty of the Government to understand what the Citizens want. In a civilized world, before decisions affecting the lives of people are taken, the Government will give a reason and then conduct a sincere public opinion. What the hell is wrong with Nigerian Government Executives and Senate/House? No one asks for our opinion, they just seat, make laws that gratify their pocket and begin to implement. If public opinion was conducted, the people will say ‘We don’t care about the deaths, Don’t ban Okada and Napep! Find a way to regularize it to make it safe!’
- When something needful is disorderly, what we do is to fix it, not ban it. banning is a coward way out!
- The action of deploying Buses to commute Lagosians i.e 65 buses, will lead to the employment of 65 drivers, as against a million of self-employed persons who survive by Okada and Keke Napep. It is a stupid calculation!
- Millions of persons will in the affected local government areas, will be put out of a job. Will the Government provide jobs for them all? we know the answer is no.
- 600 recorded deaths are nothing compared to another million of unemployed persons, strong potential risk of armed robbers, deaths likely to occur, inflated rate of depression, stoppage of education for children, child abuse and trafficking, high rate of illiteracy, dismissals from the workplace, the list is endless.
- Increasing the rate of transportation is a selfish and wicked thing to do. It doesn’t matter if the Government did so in person, local commercial drivers will always take advantage. When the cost of living continues to go high, without an increase in salaries, unfathomable hardship is laid on the masses. Is the aim of the government to kill or to save?
- The Lagos State buses and the other commercial buses are actually not enough to commute passengers. Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria next to Kano with about 21 million citizens. The means of transportation available bearly enough to cater to the transportation needs of the people especially during rush hour. We still see people waiting, fighting to enter the buses and going late for work.
- Is the Government trying to kill private businesses like Oride (Opay), Crowdyvest, who are trying to make Lagos transportation system orderly? ,
- How does government excuses justify Police by firing T-gas and guns on citizens they ought to protect?
In a country where unemployment and poverty is already on the highest step on the ladder, the ban is sure to have an adverse effect as it would lead to a sharp increase in the rate of poverty and crime. It makes it easier for criminals to operate as people are now desperate and willing to enter into any car perceived to be going their way. A case was reported in Ogba on this day on how someone was trying to use the opportunity to make a kidnap.
Why a sudden, stringent and destabilizing law would be passed without a ready back up plan is beyond me. Thousands stripped of their source of livelihood without any contingency plan. How about the Government provide a good road network with tagged lanes for Okadas, cars, buses and trucks? The entire masses and the Okada and Napep association should actually match down in peace to the house of assembly. This is a legal way to change an unjust law. The reckless disregard for democracy in a democracy should stop.
Such a law makes critical thinkers run mad. In the end, the only reason I can deduce here is this – Ban Okada and Keke Napep and increase revenue for Government. Should corruption continue? Aluta continua?