ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE

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Okada Operators

Since the ban or restrictions on Okada operators was announced by the Lagos State Government, I have deliberately refrained from making comments despite my excitement on the development which for me is not just long overdue but should be clinically executed and copied by all other State Governments who sincerely mean well for their citizens. For the records, I was sector Commander of the Federal Capital Territory when the then Minister, Mallam El- Rufai, took the bold action of banning Okada within the municipal, restricting them to the satellite towns where transportation was not as effective. That action brought a measure of sanity in reduction of deaths due to Okada operations and crime. Again, I was also privileged to be Sector Commander of Lagos State Sector Command when Governor Raji Fashola also took the steps to equally ban or restrict okada operations in the State.

 For me, I did not expect anything less from the Government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu because of the increased motorization in the State and attendant consequences of road traffic crashes. Secondly   this is the second time or so in the last nine years that this same kind of action is being taken by the State Government. As mentioned earlier under the watch of Governor Raji Fashola, a similar action was taken to address the same issues of safety and security. That action which would have sanitized the state was not sustained or executed to the letter although as at that time, there were semantics on whether it was a ban or restrictions. It is interesting to note that the Deputy Governor Femi Hamzat appearance on Channels Television Popular Political Programme on February 12, 2020 also tried to deal with this semantics which to me has always been a bane of this intervention strategies. Despite this semantics, I salute the efforts of the Government but would plead like I did as a member of the committee under Governor Fashola that politics should be kept aside while security and safety which was highlighted by the Deputy Governor should form the basis for the action.  I also do hope that the Government has done a post mortem on why the earlier attempt failed so as to bridge the identified gap which would include sustainability, strict enforcement and sustained advocacy and public enlightenment to bring all stakeholders on the same page.

Before I continue with my focus, let me first run through the position of the State Government on the subject which borders on security and safety effective February 1,2020 in six local government areas and nine local council development areas. Here are the facts tabled by the Government as justification; the first by my calculation is that from 2016 -2019 over 1000 accident were reported in Lagos State General Hospitals, excluding unreported cases in non-Government medical facilities. A total number of 600 death of innocent passengers resulting from recklessness of Okada riders have been reported.  Okada has been used by criminals to rob and terrorise innocent citizens. The rate of crimes aided by Okada and Keke keeps rising just as they have served as            getaway means for criminals. Police figure are scary.

 When it was banned in Kano and Edo, and FCT for instance, crime rates dropped. These operators are noted for their disregard for the Law and the impermissible movements of the commercial transport operators on highways contributed to traffic congestion across Lagos. More importantly the ban is in consonance with the Lagos State Transport Reform Law of 2018. It affects the following local government areas;Apapa Iganmu,Yaba,  Itire- Ikate, Coker-Aguda,Onigbongbo,Ojodu, Ikoyi-Obalande, Lagos-Island East.

For those who are yet to see any rational for the swift action on these operators, I urge you to read through the end as I again share a material I surfed on the net on the dangers of this line of business. I have chosen to run the material hoping that it will convince the doubting road users on the need to give the action all the necessary support. Motorcycle riders are unique as they are exposed to dangers that are not met by automobile drivers and other motorists. For they are less stable and less visible than other vehicles on the road.  As a result, motorcyclists must be aware of the risks and remedies available if they are involved in a traffic accident.

For the records, motorcyclists according to current records are 26 times more likely to die in a collision than someone riding in a passenger car and 5 times as likely to be injured. Secondly, in two-thirds of motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcyclist’s right of way and cause the accident. The fatality rate for motorcycle accidents has more than doubled as more riders without the needed skills jump into okada business to make ends meets especially in the absence of a standard driving structure.

 They are problems that are unique to motorcyclists such as visual Recognition because motorcyclists are smaller visual targets which are often times obscured by other vehicles, road, and weather conditions. Meanwhile,70 percent of motorcycle vs. vehicle collisions occur at intersections.

Potholes, oil slicks, puddles, debris, ruts, uneven pavement, and railroad tracks can all be minor irritations for a car, but a major hazard to motorcycles. On the issue of speed, the front of a motorcycle can become very unstable and begin to shake or wobble at high speeds. This may be due to a misalignment of the front and rear tires.

Motorcycling requires more skills and coordination to operate as against a car. Many motorcycle accidents are caused by a rider’s lack of basic riding skills or failure to appreciate the inherent operating characteristics and limitations of the motorcycle.

The attendant risks involving these operators explains why rider are to always wear a helmet both for the rider and the ride pillion. Wear the right gear: For maximum protection, wear leather or reinforced jacket, gloves, full pants, and over-the-ankle footwear, even in summer. You need to wear gear that will protect you from wind chill, flying bugs and debris.

Motorcycle riders should be defensive: be extra alert, keep an eye out for cars suddenly changing lanes, avoid people who are texting and driving, and don’t tailgate so you have plenty of time to react. They should avoid adverse weather conditions: this is because rain cuts your visibility and reduces your tires’ grip on the road. If you have to ride in the wind, be proactive in anticipating the potential push from the side by moving to the side of the lane the wind is coming from.

Lastly  a rider mush watch out for road hazards: This reason is because a motorcycle has less contact with the pavement than a car. Riders must therefore watch for sand, wet leaves, pebbles, bumps, potholes and other hazards that may cause your bike to slide unexpectedly.