It might be difficult to look beyond the poverty and backwardness in our society, but only when we try, will it become intelligible that the use of motorcycle for commercial transportation has to stop. Aside that it’s unsafe, in the real sense it’s an abuse of the product itself, essentially when you consider that it was originally never meant for commercial transportation.
Motorcycles were initially not part of our transportation system. Institutional failure gave room for them in the first place. Okada came to being as a result of government’s failure to create adequate jobs and transportation facility that can cater for the growing population. No developing city can permit the nuisance they constitute on our roads, let alone the threat they pose to safety and security, security in the sense that it aids the easy movement of weapons and ammunitions and also the sudden influx of many okada riders who came into Lagos after they were banned in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Uyo and other states. This in itself is a threat to the city of Lagos.
Despite the annoyance in many Lagosians, we can’t but agree with Governor Fashola when he said “visit the hospitals and emergency wards and see those who have lost limbs, arms, those who had lost children or those who had become orphans by the recklessness of the okada riders.
Honestly, Nigerians should expect that if we must progress as a nation, many more difficult and unpopular laws and decisions would be needed. The only challenge is that our leaders have a knack for doing good things in bad ways, which majorly questions the sanity in their policy. Look at the fuel subsidy issue that put the entire nation to a stand-still in January for instance, and here again is Fashola destroying bikes. They shouldn’t have destroyed those seized bikes. Not for any reason! That in my opinion is cruel. Like some other states did, they should have made plans for them to pay more to receive brand new tricycles instead of their seized bikes. Nigerian politicians need to develop sensitivity and a human face to leadership; hence of what essence is democracy!
Trust they say is built on antecedents. Until Nigerians have a higher level of trust in their leaders, unpopular decisions taken by politicians will always be yelled at and seen as anti-people. This same spontaneous Governor in collaboration with his party gave out free crash helmets to okada riders during the 2011 general election and now it’s a different ball game entirely.
Fashola actually once said it’s only a dumb student that repeats a class. The denotation of this statement might actually be responsible for many of the overzealous laws that have characterized the second term of his administration. Or how else do you explain that a governor who doubles as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who in every sense should actually know better, will zealously and unreasonably criminalize traffic offenses.
Lagosians are not dumb. All they are angry and mad at is that Fashola and his group of advisers are yet to understand the concept of creating alternatives. And that for every action there will be several equal and opposite reactions.
Many of these okada men used to be artisans; welders, carpenters, tailors and the rest. Just like a welder I spoke with asked me “when there’s no light to work, how do I buy diesel and still make money? So I’d to settle for okada. No be say me self won die now”. Lagos state government needs to think deep about the aftermath of the widened gap between the haves and don’t haves.
Fashola recently in Lagos urged business executives and corporate leaders to be mindful of the type of ventures they support, emphasizing that tricycles known as Keke Marwa represents the sign of India’s age of poverty which the country is doing so much to do away with by busy manufacturing TATA buses. Fashola said he wonders how Nigerians are now embracing it wholeheartedly. On the contrary, I wonder why he can’t learn the simple lesson of creating alternatives from the same Indian government he used as example.
In a society majorly comprised of the jobless and the poor, with no hope of social security, a society where hunger beat many soft like clay, you just don’t preach normalcy and order by banning a bad thing that comes with several good benefits. Moreover the ruling class will never have a feel of the consequences of such drastic actions. So how on earth do they expect people to see sanity in their decisions?
Many of our roads are so bad and un-motorable. I had to take the picture of this part of Mushin road, a route I take almost every day. When you consider the traffic caused by such roads especially when it rains, okada becomes the available alternative if you must meet up. Ijegun road, Jakande Estate in Oke-afa in Isolo to Ejigbo road got some attention after so much complains, yet it hasn’t been completed donkey years after the contract has been awarded.
The Lagos State government needs to do more in terms of infrastructure, transportation and good roads, before coming up with harsh laws and decisions. Fashola needs to be reminded that his tenure made all Lagosians, including bike men who pay for various nameless tickets, pay more in tax than any previous administration. Lagosians are playing their part. We can’t wait to see the tax collected transform the whole of Lagos and not some designated areas.
Eko o ni baje!
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