By Augustine Ehikioya
Dislodging criminals through the ban on Commercial Motorcycle (Okada) riders in Lagos State, a member of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), Dr. Ayodele Ogunsan, said the ban and its enforcement are in the right direction.
He maintained that getting criminals off Lagos streets, through the ban, will help to attract investment to the State.
But allowing and portraying lawlessness to the outside world through the handiwork of the Okada riders, he noted, will continue to drive investors away.
These were his views when he granted exclusive interview to Security Watch Africa (SWA) crew in Lagos State at the weekend.
He said “The primary purpose of the government is to keep the people safe. The government has to play its role of security for all of us. We have some security lapses being caused by these Okada riders.
“We can’t continue to portray lawlessness to the rest of the world, it will drive away investment.
“The ban is a good policy. Nobody should worry about it, nobody should be disturbed if you are doing a legitimate business.
“It is only those who are lawless that should worry about the ban. But we are coming after them,” he warned.
Stressing that the ban has been on for a long time, he noted, that the enforcement has not been very effective as it is now.
Asked whether there was consultation with the people before the ban came into effect, he said there were consultation with the stakeholders since the ban was first put in place six years ago.
Stressing that the government has been very lenient with those in the Okada business for six years, he said, that the recent ban was in response to the evil acts of the Okada riders and the calls from the good people in the State.
“We responded more to the yearning of the people in the State,” he said.
He also disclosed that the Lagos State Government has already provided alternative transportation to the banned Okada as means of transportation in the State.
Pointing out that those in the Okada business are already aware of the small buses the government is providing as alternative transportation, Dr. Ogunsan, urged them to take advantage of the government’s gesture.
He was very optimistic that Lagosians will very soon start seeing in Lagos State what is usually seen in some developed climes.
But despite the steps being taken to ameliorate the effect of the ban on Lagosians, some of them, who walked some distances when going and coming back from their businesses, have questioned why the alternative transportation was not put in place first before enforcement of the ban.
Other Lagosians, despite trekking some distances everyday, have however given kudos to the state government and the Nigeria Police Force for the ban.
They spoke with Security Watch Africa (SWA) as they were randomly selected on the streets of Lagos State.
A Lagosian, Favour Ojo, said “Generally, it’s not a bad action really, although it comes with some side-effects.
“But on the other hand, there are much more damages being done by these Okada men, they drive recklessly and there have been so much wrong things being done by them.
“Because they know the corners, they know the nicks of your street, they can actually come out as informants for those that want to rob. I’ve seen it happen, it is not as if I was told,” he stated.
Another Lagos resident, Ikechukwu Greg, said “The ban is necessary because along Allen Avenue, the traffic has reduced drastically. It is a good development.
“But the government should try as much as possible to create jobs for these people because the ban of Okada might lead to a lot of crime, of which we are facing right now. So, I just hope that government should have one or two alternatives to cushion that effect of the ban.”
Richard Chuks, also a Lagosian, said “I feel it’s awkward that the system is not really working in our favour. The Okada ban, I understand, it’s for security reasons, but there are no measures put in place to replace this system to help those that are being stopped from working.
“Nothing was first put in place before stopping these people,” he noted.
On her part, Patience Agoloku, said “It has been so challenging these days because we have to be on a long queue before we get Keke.
“Unlike before when there was Okada, anybody that doesn’t want to use Keke, will just join the Okada, that is they will fly it. Now, it has really being challenging.
“Like yesterday, I stood there for like one hour thirty minutes trying to get Keke. Even these Keke that come in increased their fare.
“Normally, it is about 150 naira, but they now increased it due to the fact that there is no Okada and everybody wants to rush the Keke and the small shuttle buses. It’s really being challenging for me personally,” she concluded.