EHIME ALEX, Lagos
Following recent ban on the activities of commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada, and tricycles, known as Keke Napep, in some Local Government Areas, bridges, and highways in Lagos state, a Human Rights Organization has said that total ban portends further hardship and insecurity in the state than would otherwise imagined.
Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday in Lagos to protest the ban on Okada and Keke in Lagos state, the National President, Ambassadors for Peace and Enlightenment Foundation (AMPEF), Comrade Prince Saviour Iche, therefore appealed to the Lagos state government to reconsider its decision.
Comrade Iche said, “Banning Okada and Keke is not the best decision for now,” rather the government should have consulted widely with relevant stakeholders before taking the shocking decision. “We assumed that order of this magnitude should have involved more stakeholders who should have been carried along.”
He noted that the government should have first provided alternative means of livelihoods for the Okada and Keke riders to survive on thereafter, before issuing the directive as that could be another avenue for the law enforcement agency to usurp power.
According to the Lagos state government, it took the decision to ban Okada and Keke in response to “scary figures” of fatal accidents recorded from operations of Okada and tricycles in the State between 2016 and 2019 and the increasing rate at which crimes are being aided by Okada and Keke in the state.
Continuing, Comrade Iche stressed that as a human rights organization, the group is concerned as millions of Okada and Keke riders to be affected, in their rights, are breadwinners of their families, who have not other jobs to lean on.
He noted that this is further made serious when one considers that majority of the Okada and Keke riders are degree and master holders who as a result of the worrisome unemployment situation in the country, frustrated without finding meaningful jobs to do, have settled for the risky Okada job.
“Though a risky job, Okada seems the last option for them,” he said.
Appealing to the Lagos state government to reconsider its decision, Comrade Iche said the fact remains that Okada and Keke, as means of transportation, do aid the economic activities of the state.
He said Okada and Keke also ease movement of people from one point to another, helping them to meet up on business appointments, especially in areas where roads are bad and cannot be traversed by motor vehicles.
Rather than total ban, Comrade Iche suggested that there could be a formal training to orientate Okada and Keke riders and get them informed on the use of road signs, and that by so doing could help minimize the menace of road accidents.
He said, “We want to appeal as well as suggest to the Lagos state government that those riders’ excesses, probably by not obeying traffic signs, could be curtailed if the right measures are put in place.”
As a human rights organization, Comrade Iche said the group feared that there could be more that two million Okada riders to be affected by the ban, same or more for Keke riders too, and that if the situation is not properly managed the unintended consequence could compound the increasing lawlessness in the state.
“Just imagine when these numbers of people are denied their means of livelihoods. This will be further compounded if we assume that they have families of two, three, four or more persons to cater for.
“The repercussion could increase lawlessness in the state. Crime rate will increase. Many forms of crimes will be the order of the day because as they say, the idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
“We are calling on the Lagos state government to re-address this issue in order to mitigate further acrimonies that will likely follow.
“We are also using this medium to appeal to our listening Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to rescind the order.”
Suggesting ways of sustaining the means of livelihoods for the Okada and Keke riders, Comrade Iche urged the Lagos state government to use skill acquisition programmes to empower crops of idling minds in the state, inclusive of the Okada and Keke riders.
Comrade Iche suggested further that the Lagos state government could also curtail the excesses of Okada theft, lost of lives and other security challenges as it claimed through a formal registration and scrutinizing of would-be Okada or Keke rider.
He however faulted the reasons given by the Lagos government for the ban saying it sound illogical.
He asked, “Don’t one-chance robbers use buses and cars to operate? Don’t cars, buses, trucks and others vehicles involve in road accidents? So, will the Lagos state government now ban all these other means of transportation because people used it to rob, or because often times they do involve in accidents?”
According to Comrade Iche, road accidents are majorly caused as a result of bad roads, which the government needs not to be told that fixing the roads are in its purview. But that the governments rather find pleasure in bringing out policies that are anti-massess.
“We are not in support of total ban but restriction on major areas”, Comrade Iche said while urging the Lagos state government to concentrate on fixing the bad roads in the State as well as linking it up where necessary.
“We subscribed to the regulation operating before now that Okada and Keke riders be restricted from highways and major sensitive areas of the state like Airports, Alausa and other areas.”
Responding to a question on the assessment of the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Comrade Iche said, “We expect the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation to do their job and do the right thing.
Lagos is blessed as a waterlogged area, but not being utilized, Comrade Iche said that if the ministry is working they should used water channels adequately as means of transportation within the State.
Adding that previous moves by past Lagos state governments to link the state through the rail and waters have yet to yielded positive result, Comrade Iche said, “So, if they are really working, they should have made alternatives linked roads, through waters or land.”
Meanwhile, the Ambassadors for Peace and Enlightenment Foundation (AMPEF) is a registered non-government and non-profit organisation that aims at safeguarding the human and civil rights of every citizen, and securing – for all citizens – fair and equal treatment in the contexts of public and private service delivery.