The Chairman, All Nigerian Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association, Mr. Aliyu Wamba, has described the economic fallout of the ban on the operations of commercial motorcycle, popularly called Okada, on some roads in the state as “terrible.”
He said the policy had started to take a heavy toll on the operators, while describing it as anti-people.
Wamba accused the government of going ahead to enforce the law after it was taken to court over the legislation.
He said, “We are now in a very terrible condition, as the law has made us economically incapacitated. We now struggle for our survival and our families are in a very sorry state. The situation is becoming pathetic.
“The enforcement of the law did not follow due process; the task force officials are just doing what they like. The law says if someone breaks any of the rules and is arrested, they should be fined as a first offender; if the act is repeated, they should be fined as a second offender; but if it reoccurs the third time, it is then their vehicle can be impounded.
“What happens now is that once a rider is intercepted, the motorcycle is impounded and taken to the crushing yard. Once the motorcycle is impounded, it is billed for crushing without any trial.
“The officials most time pursue and assault Okada operators before impounding their vehicles. I have received reports of five deaths in other associations. We have two cases in ANACOWA, where one man broke his arm in an accident when the officials pursued him and the other nearly lost his eyes when they hit him with gun butt.”
Wamba, who denied ANACOWA members’ involvement in the vandalism of the government owned-Bus Rapid Transit in a protest, said the association had lost about 2,000 motorcycles of the 10,000 he said the government seized.
He added, “The governor should be a listening governor. This development was not recorded even in the military era. We voted the Action Congress of Nigeria into power with high expectations but it’s very disappointing and unfortunate that the same government is turning against the masses.”
Governor Babatunde Fashola had on August 2, 2012 signed the new Lagos Traffic Law, which barred okada operations from 496 roads in the state. Over 3000 motorcycles have been reportedly impounded and crushed for recycling, since the enforcement of the law began.