The Lagos State Government has declared total war on commercial motorcycle riders also known as okada riders plying the 475 prohibited routes in the Lagos metropolis.
It said police enforcement of the ban was just a tip of the iceberg of what would befall the riders still flouting government’s order that they avoid the prohibited routes.
Speaking at the 2012 Annual Council of Prophets Convention of the Cherubim and Seraphim Movement Church, Surulere District, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, to sensitise members of the church on the new road traffic law, Fashola said police action was just to test-run how the raid on okada riders would be.
The governor added that by the time officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI and other security agencies joined in the enforcement, there would be no hiding place for okada riders.
Fashola, who was represented by the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, said total enforcement would soon begin, saying what was currently ongoing by the police was not full enforcement. He stated that the thinking of the government was that by the end of this month, no okada rider should be seen on any of the prohibited routes, saying that government was more determined to enforce the ban.
According to Fashola, there were lots of jobs to do for okada riders that might lose their businesses, saying that many of them abandoned their vocational skills to make quick money through okada riding.
The governor told the gathering that the law was not meant to punish people but to sanitise and regulate the transportation system and by making people comply. Fashola said the new law gave power to LASTMA to arrest anyone who flouted it as well as impose stipulated fines on erring members of the public. He stated that the law recommend outright dismissal for LASTMA officials found to be corrupt in the course of performing their duties, as no one would be spared.
“Our plan is not to send people to jail but to make people comply,” he said, adding that beginning from January, commuter buses would only be allowed to ply the route routes they were registered to ply. He vowed that any commercial bus caught plying routes they were not registered to ply would be impounded and the driver arrested and prosecuted.
The governor appealed to leaders of the church to educate their members to obey the traffic law, saying that they should preach it from the pulpit so that their members could obey the law.
“Talking in the church to members is one of the most effective ways to sensitise the people. The church should help us send the message to people to obey the traffic law. Let your driver go to the Lagos drivers institute to get certified,” he stated.
District Chairman and General Leader, Cherubim and Seraphim, Surulere District, Dr. Gabriel Fakeye, who was represented by the Deputy District Chairman, Senior Apostle J.A. Toriola, said the church would assist the state government in sensitizing members on the new traffic law and the need to obey the law.
Meanwhile, okada riders went on the rampage in various parts of Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria, today to protest the ban on them from plying 475 roads in the metropolis.
At Onipanu, on Ikorodu Road, the irate okada riders vandalised about 10 BRT buses during the violent protest against the Lagos State Government. The okada riders stormed Onipanu area very early in the morning and vent their anger on BRT buses, destroying them. Armed with sticks, iron roads and other dangerous weapons, the Okada riders hauled stones at BRT buses on Ikorodu road at Onipanu and Palmgrove bus stops.
There was pandemonium in the area and a team of policemen from the Rapid Response Squad, RRS was deployed to the area to quell the protest.
It was gathered that some arrests were made by the police but the number of arrests is yet to be confirmed.
Similarly, the riders also protested in Ikorodu and Ejigbo areas of the state this morning over the ban on them by government. In Ejigbo, the riders blocked the road, causing traffic jam in the area while they carried leaves and chanted anti-government songs. They outrightly rejected the ban placed on them from plying 475 roads in Lagos, saying it would cripple their businesses.
Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, confirmed the protest, saying that the police moved in on time to quell the protest. She said she could not confirm if arrests were made as at the time of filing this report, but said everything was under control.