Lagos Playing Politics with ‘Okada’ Riders
Notes for File
Lagos State is currently groaning under the yoke of criminal and other lawless activities of commercial motorcycle riders popularly called okada. Their lawlessness and impunity in the state have gone overboard. These motorcycle operators have dominated every major road in the state where they ride against the traffic. Whether it is Airport Road, Ikorodu Road, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Eko Bridge, Lekki Road, they are there, operating with impunity and above the law. The state government tolerates them and uses them to play politics while they wreak havoc.
Though the current administration in the state inherited the problem from the past administration, which had watched as relative sanity instilled on the highways between 2010 and 2015 reverted to lawlessness when it relaxed enforcement of the traffic laws, the situation has since degenerated to a dangerously chaotic level to the dismay of Lagos residents, who had relished the few years of relative orderliness on the highways after decades of a harrowing traffic nightmare.
Now, unruly riders, capitalising on the laxity and lack of consistency in enforcement, have taken lawlessness to new heights and rendered Lagos roads unsafe. Apart from flagrant violations of traffic rules, commercial motocycles have become a vehicle of choice for armed robbers and violent rival cults.
To convince Lagosians that it is not playing politics with the riders, the state government must strongly enforce the law against them. No serious government relaxes or looks the other way when laws are broken. This loophole emboldened all manner of persons from states where okada had been banned, including neighbouring countries, to flood the state. The influx of dare-devil commercial motorcyclists has blighted the city’s claim to megacity status. It comes with high economic and social costs, and has added significantly to the cost of goods and services and the disruption of social activities.
Each time agents of the government attempt to enforce the traffic rules, they are met with violent resistance from the riders. They have attacked and killed policemen and torched their vehicles, and police stations. It is a mess the government brought upon itself, which it must fix urgently.
The riders have deformed many persons, left households in anguish after fatal, needless accidents, while motorcycles are increasingly used to perpetrate crimes. The state government must rise up quickly to save the state