SOME complained of arbitrary seizure of their motorcycles. Others rejoiced that there were no more bikes to knock down school children. It has been an admixture of tears and smiles as the reality of the ban on commercial motorcycles dawned on Lagosians during the week.
A resident, who identified himself as Nwosu Adiele, and whose office is located close to Alausa, Ikeja, disclosed to Saturday Tribune that he spent about five hours before he could get to his house at Igando in Alimosho Local Government area despite leaving his office at about 4.30pm on Tuesday.
“On Tuesday, despite leaving my office which is very close to Alahusa, Ikeja, at about 4.30pm, I couldn’t get home till around 9pm. This was as a result of the fact that there were no okadas, and the commercial buses available couldn’t cope with the dozens of people stranded at various bus stops.
“This problem didn’t not go away the following day, as I had to walk for a long distance before I could get to my office, this was a route where ordinarily, a fare of about N70 for bike was all I needed to cover. People are really suffering, and by Monday, when the Sallah break is over, I don’t really know how people will cope,” Nwosu said.
Another resident, Mr Bankole Michael, who disclosed that his bike, despite not being used for commercial purposes was not spared, expressed a similar view when he revealed that he had to trek for several kilometres before he could get a bus to where he was going.
“My motorcycle was also seized and taken away. All my pleas that it was not being used for any commercial purpose fell on deaf ears. I trekked from Ikeja Along to Alahusa Secretariat, and back to Ikeja Area Command, where my bike was seized because I didn’t have enough money on me.
“At various bus stops there were scores of people waiting for buses which were not forth coming. The development is also affecting other businesses, because I am aware of people who missed business opportunities just because they couldn’t get to where they were going on time,” he said.
However, another resident who spoke under anonymity insisted that the current clampdown on okada riders was a step in the right direction and that the government got it spot on. He argued that like the case of the closure of the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagosians would adapt with time.
“For the first time in a long while, there was no annoying and continuous blaring of horns, which many okadas are known for. I didn’t have to look left and right all the time to avoid being hit by any bike.
“Moreover, I also saw a couple of school children walking freely without being scared or too careful that a ‘bike guy’ was going to knock them into the gutter. If Fashola insists on banning okadas, then we should all learn to adjust. I believe it is only a matter of time before Lagosians adapt and forget about them, just like they did when the Third Mainland Bridge was closed down a couple months ago. Then, it was as if the chaos caused by the partial closure would not end, but we all survived,” he opined.
In the meantime, a few hours before press time on Friday, two trucks full of seized okadas were spotted by Saturday Tribune at the Old Toll Gate-end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, on their way to Alausa.
But while the groaning may continue, statistics obtained from the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the Police have shown that no less than 619 people were among victims either killed or seriously injured in commercial motorcycle accidents in the last two years.
The records from the Planning and Research Department of LASTMA revealed that out of the number, 107 people died while 512 sustained serious injuries as a result of the accidents. The breakdown showed that 71 were male while 36 were female.
Details of the accidents between January 2011 and October 2012 further revealed that a total of 442 commercial motorcycles, were involved in accidents out of which 271 occurred in 2011 and 171 this year.
In 2011 alone, 47 persons were killed and 98 others sustained serious injuries while from January 2012 to date, 63 people have been killed and 59 others sustained serious injuries.
Police records also revealed that a total of 513 fatal accidents recorded in the state in the last two years were caused by okada operators.
According to the record, out of this number 305 happened between January and December 2011 while 208 of the fatal accidents happened between January and June this year.
The record indicated that of the 30 armed robbery incidents recorded in the state between July and September this year, 22 of them involved the use of commercial motorcycles. The details showed that of eight robberies that occurred in July, seven involved the use of okada. It was okada was also used in 10 out of 14 robberies in September and five out of eight robberies in August.