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Okada is symbol of poverty, used to rob, steal – Lag govt speaks on ban of motorcycles


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THE Lagos state Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, has shed more light on the recent decision of the government to ban motorcycles, popularly called okada and tricycles, also called keke napep or marwa in six Local Government Areas (LGA), nine Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) and 10 major highways across the state.

Omotoso told The ICIR that the ban which is to take effect from February 1, is targeted at curbing the high crime rate in the state. According to him, okada is often used for robbery and is a major cause of road accidents, leading to serious injury and sometimes, death.

“Okada is being used to rob and steal and maim. Criminals use it to escape after their evil act.

“The figures are scary – people are dying in hundreds, heads are being smashed and limbs broken. We just must stop it all; safety and security of lives of Lagosians are of utmost interest to the government,” he said.

On Monday, Omotoso announced at the State house that the ban is to be implemented in the following LGAS and LCDAS: Apapa LGA, Apapa Iganmu LCDA, Lagos Mainland LGA, Yaba LCDA, Surulere LGA, Itire-Ikate LCDA, and Coker-Aguda LCDA.

Others are Ikeja LGA, Onigbongbo, LCDA, Ojodu LCDA, Eti-Osa LGA, Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA, and Iru-Victoria Island LCDA, Lagos Island LGA and Lagos Island East LCDA.

The announcement sparked a debate on social media. Many Lagosians are asking whether alternative means of transportation will be provided for those who will be most affected by the ban.

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Some wonder if the banning will indeed tackle crime rate in the state or enable it.

Such concerns were relayed to Omotoso, who told The ICIR that the government has plans for other means of transportation.

He said hundreds of buses were already at the ports and would be brought into the state.

He added that the Lagos state government plans to commission six ferries for the waterways and reiterated that the ban is to ensure safety and security for Lagosians.

“There are plans for alternatives. More buses are coming; already at the ports in their hundreds. In a few days, we are commissioning six ferries for the waterways.

“We just must stop it all; safety and security of lives of Lagosians are of utmost interest to the government. Alternatives are on the cards; they can wait awhile but the haemorrhage must be stopped,” Omotoso said.

The likes of Gokada and Opay are also affected in the ban.

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Gokada, a motorcycle taxi service founded in 2017 launched its business in Lagos with an objective of “enabling people to move around the state in a faster and more affordable way.”

With five investors, the company is said to have its deal amount pegged at N3.2 billion.

With the ban, Gokada and other transporters using motorcycles stand to lose their investment. Omotoso defended the position of the government when he spoke to The ICIR.

According to him, foreign investors who know that okada isn’t part of the ‘Greater Lagos’ journey are coming.

He said okada is a symbol of poverty, and some residents of Lagos describe investment in the  business as ‘blood money.’

“More foreign investors, who know that okada, isn’t part of our Greater Lagos journey, are coming. Some have told me that okada is a symbol of the poverty.”

Many Lagosians see okada investment as blood money; it’s that bad,” he said.

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Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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