Informal workers under the aegis of Federation of Informal Workers Organisations of Nigeria (FIWON) have described the new traffic law enacted by the Lagos State government as “draconian, capable of rendering many people jobless”.
At a news conference addressed by FIWON’s General Secretary, Gbenga Komolafe, and other union leaders in Lagos, the informal workers said the haste with which the law was enacted leaves much to be desired as it portrays the government as one that is out to oppress the masses.
“The hush, hush manner under which this very important law was enacted in the first instance leaves much to be desired. The parliament is a theatre of continuous citizen engagement with the government in a democracy, not an instrument of passing oppressive, draconian laws,” Komolafe said.
He also lamented that the penalties imposed on the infractions of these laws are “high-handed”, saying it gives room for government officers to extort money from members of the public.
“When a law imposes a fine of N20,000 and above, more than the minimum wage and/or jail terms of three years for simple road contravention; there is an open invitation to corruption for the personnel of the implementing agencies and penury for the people. Whatever the good intentions of the government might be, these penalties are rather draconian,” Komolafe said.
Komolafe said the union salutes state government’s efforts to regulate transport activities, especially the restriction placed on the use of commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada on Federal highway, just as he lauds prohibition of one-way driving.
He however took exception to the ban placed on motorcycles and tricycles on 485 intra-city routes and roads. He said if the order is not reversed, many of the operators will lose their means of livelihood.
“We identify with the concerns of our members that if the law is left as it is now, it will render most of them jobless and make live more difficult for members of the public that have also come to regard and appreciate the auto-bike and tricycles as the only reliable means of transportation on several routes especially in the rural parts of Lagos State,” he said.