Commuters have slammed the Lagos State Government for banning the activities of commercial motorcycles and tricycles, popularly called okada and keke respectively, saying the decision has imposed hardship on residents.
Many people were seen trekking long distances on Monday as okada and keke operators had disappeared from the roads.
Alibaba Gbenga, commuting from Ojota to Ikeja, told Newsbreak that the government had created problems for commuters. He said the deficit in the state’s transport infrastructure has been made obvious as people had difficult times getting to their destinations.
For Peter Vincent, he had to trek from Bode Thomas in Surulere to Iponri. He complained that the government had not provided any alternative, making life difficult for residents.
Another respondent, Wale Adesanya, said the ban is ill-conceived as there is no alternative. He noted that commercial buses have been feeding off the situation and have doubled, in some cases tripled, bus fares.
“The buses have already increased their prices. From Sabo, Yaba, to Oyingbo which is normally N50, I entered the same bus N200 last night.
“That’s 150 per cent increment. You can imagine. As we are standing here now, from here (Iponri) to Ojuelegba is N50, but they will say N150; that’s 100 per cent increment. So, it’s an avenue for them to extort people. It’s not good,” he said.
Festus Moses, who was trekking from Ketu to Maryland, said the okada and keke were useful for many avoiding gridlock. He noted that the ongoing road rehabilitation along the route would have had no impact on commuters without the ban.
“The ban is not a good idea. When there is traffic, bikes especially help you get to where you are going in time. Look at it now, there is heavy traffic,” he said.
Folagbemi Abigail, an Ojota-bound passenger from Ikorodu, told Newsbreak that she and other commuters had to board a taxi after waiting for hours at the bus stop.
Asides the stress of trekking, many of the commuters said the government should have considered the riders, who have now been rendered jobless.
“No jobs, people are just using that to engage themselves. The roads are bad, Okada help you maneuver all that,” Ayodeji Shittu said.
A visibly dejected commuter, Abioye, said he had spent hours at the bus stop with no hope of getting to his destination.
“I don’t know what to do, I cannot do anything until the governor reverses the ban. If maruwa (okada) is working, it’s another thing; just maruwa, no okada. I am going to Yaba now, I have not seen any bus and I have not seen any maruwa, so I am just fed up,” he said.
For Salami Olakunle, the decision is “absolute madness”. He said if the government was bothered about safety across the state, it would not have banned keke.
“See, I even agree that safety is a concern for the state government regarding the commercial motorcyclist. But how about the source of living of these people that has been taken away.
“What about Keke Marwa, is it about safety and security too? What is government bringing that will help people get to where they are going in time?” he said.
However, Ade Ajaga, praised the government for imposing the ban. He said some of the okada operators flagrantly disobeyed traffic rules, resulting in the death or maiming of passers-by.
He noted that traffic had been free-flowing in the area since the ban took effect. He however urged the government to exempt tricycles from the ban, saying old people have been finding it difficult to go out.
“I am really happy that the okada people have been asked to stop operating because they are stupid. Number one, some of them are meruwa (water cart pushers) and when they gather some meaningful amount of money, they will go and buy okada and start driving it.
“Sometimes, they follow one-way and hit some people like students who cross the road on their way to school. Sometimes, we boys stay on the road to stop okadas from following the wrong way.
“So, I really appreciate the ban (on okada) but for keke maruwa, they also follow one-way but let the government just give them a warning and trial. I just like the way the environment is very clean, you can’t see any commotion or rough driving; but for that maruwa, it’s okay if they are allowed to operate because you have some arugbo (old people) here, if they want to go somewhere they don’t need to enter okada, they will enter maruwa,” he said. /
To ameliorate the sufferings of residents, the government has announced that it will inject 550 medium capacity buses to address the areas, where the bans have been enforced.
Already, 65 buses have been added to the state’s fleet to assist in lifting more passengers across the metropolis.
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