Fashola Cannot Ban Us - Okada Riders

Seized motorcycles (okada) at Alausa
With the clampdown by the Lagos State government biting hard on his members, Lagos State Chairman of Motorcycle Owners Association of Lagos State, MOALS, Mr. Tijani Pekis has challenged Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola to provide jobs for thousands of commercial motorcyclists (Okada riders) whose motorcycles have been seized by security agencies in the state.

In an interview on the massive clampdown on his members by the government, Pekis declared that government cannot totally ban commercial motorcyclists in the state because of the prevailing unemployment in the country. “If Governor Fashola is actually serious about checking the menace of Okada riders in the state, let him provide them all with jobs. This is the only way to check the excesses of the few ones spoiling our business,” Pekis declared.

The MOALS chairman declared that the ongoing onslaught against his members will not achieve the desired objective. ”It will be counter productive,” he added quickly. “Governor Fashola should note that our members include graduates who took to Okada business to survive when they could not find a job. How do you want able-bodied men with wives and children to survive the current harsh economic conditions when you are restricting riders on virtually all Lagos roads?

“Fashola has by his recent action provided opportunity again to unscrupulous policemen and LASTMA officials to extort money from our members. That is what is happening now,” he stated. The MOALS  chairman said he was not against the government enforcing traffic laws of the state but that the manner officials were going about it calls for concern. “They are too highhanded. You seize our machines and ask us to come and pay double the amount we used in buying it. How much are we making from the business to warrant this massive clampdown?” he asked.

He appealed to the governor to release all the motorcycles seized and warn culprits to desist from flouting the traffic laws of the state. “This is the way to do things in a democracy,” he added. Okada riders who spoke with newsmen on the clampdown accused corrupt policemen of stretching the law too far by arresting riders indiscriminately in order to collect money from them.

An Okada rider who identified himself as Sule Lamidi said the rate at which policemen and other officials of the state government were arresting Okada riders and impounding their machines was alarming. “Even if you did not commit any traffic offence, they will arrest you and collect money from you. If you argue with them, they will impound your machine and when it gets to Alausa, that is the end. You can’t retrieve it again,” he stated.

Another rider who gave his name as Chukwuma Edebiri said the current onslaught against riders will soon die down. “That is how they usually start. After sometime they will get tired and leave us to operate. These people are unfair to us; they want to kill us by starving us,” he said.

Investigations revealed that the renewed onslaught against Okada riders trampling on the state traffic laws which started on Monday has led to the arrest of hundreds of Okada riders while their motorcycles were impounded and dumped at the Alausa office of the task force on environmental sanitation. A visit to the office showed a heap of motorcycles dumped in the complex.

Aspects of the traffic regulations most disobeyed by the riders included those banning them from the highways and not carrying more than one passengers. The riders were on the highways with more than one passenger and some are not even wearing their protective helmets.