The one-size-fits-all policy of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration in Lagos state banning okada and motorcycles in some major roads across the state cannot apply to all motorcycle riders. There are variables that should be brought into perspective. There are the unformalised okada. Then, the despatch riders and then the tech business solutions like Gokada etc. First, I appreciate that the government initiative is well-intended to protect Lagosians from harm. I am concerned though that the perpetrators of accidents have been lumped together with business entrepreneurs who try to eke out a living in a tough city. Where was the data applied to get the results that all the accidents are caused by all motorbike riders? To what extent does the data (if any) show the degree at which each bike rider category causes accidents? Which category causes the most accidents?
I expect that the Lagos state government decision must be on these parameters before they can disrupt lives. Secondly, the okada ban could present challenges to the already challenging Lagos traffic. Again, data should solve this problem. How many people take okada in Lagos and how many cars does it remove from the roads? This question is not only for commuters but also despatch riders. What will happen if we use cars for despatch services? Thirdly, how many businesses will be adversely affected by this decision? Already, small businesses struggle to survive in a hostile environment and this is yet another blow to be dealt on despatch companies, and tech companies.
Regarding the latter, I think okada proscription could destroy creativity and innovation that is just emerging in Lagos. Investors looking out to support bright minds who believed they were solving the Lagos transport problem can be dissuaded from providing the much needed funding. What does that do for development and the many jobs that were created by these young minds?
Without doubt, I support the government intention to keep the people safe; however, I think they are throwing the baby out with the bath water. Whatever happened to enforcement of safe driving practices? I believe there should be some level of control by the Lagos State Government, yes. In fact, there are huge opportunities if the government will pay attention. For example, there is an opportunity to formalise okada riding. They can be registered to do business/operate as okada riders with strict compliance to traffic rules. What this can do is to help Lagos capture data on who is who such that it increases visibility and demystifies those who will get into criminal activities.
Also, it will force people who choose to ride okada into a formal sector so that it creates jobs, and increases business profit. It will also improve traffic and with the appropriate monitoring and compliance to traffic rules make Lagos a better place to drive. Frankly, Lagosians are tired of the okada proscription and having them return when the next political campaigns show up. It’s time we got a more sustainable approach to governance.
Mr Governor, there is a lot of thinking to do. I hope he gets to read this and think differently.
Ms Dede Kadiri