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Lagos and Okada riders

In an act that has graphically exposed the ugly, intolerant and violent behaviour of commercial motorcycle operators, otherwise known as Okada riders, commercial activities were disrupted in some parts of Lagos State recently. Property, including commercial buses belonging to the Lagos State Government were vandalized in the orgy of violence unleashed by the Okada riders.

At least two persons were reportedly killed in the rampage. The Okada riders were protesting the enforcement of the State’s Traffic Law banning their operation  in about 475 roads in the state. The banned routes include expressways and bridges and all dual carriage ways in the state. The Traffic bill which was passed by the State House of Assembly was officially signed into law by the State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, on August 12, 2012. Contravention of the Traffic Law attracts  penalties such as heavy fines, impounding of the affected vehicle or motorcycle.

The culprit faces the risk of prosecution and imprisonment on conviction. But the Okada operators have joined issues with the state government regarding certain provisions of the traffic law. They have claimed, among other things, that the Law as it concerns their operation is harsh and deliberately targeted to put them out of business. Meanwhile, the operators under the aegis of All Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association (ANACOWA) have filed a suit before a Lagos High Court against their restriction.

But the government has toughened its stand on the restriction order, as the governor insists  there is no going back on it. He defended the need to regulate the operation of the Okada riders. He cited the high and troubling accident statistics in the hospitals which he says attests to the menace of the activities of the operators. The restriction, the governor said, was for public good. In a somewhat tougher tone, the state House of Assembly has threatened an outright ban on the Okada riders throughout the state if its members continue to be lawless.

According to the Speaker of the House, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, if the destruction of government property by the Okada riders continues, the legislature would have no option but to outlaw their operation completely throughout the state. There is no doubt that Okada as a business venture has, for some years now, become an integral part of our transport system in both urban and rural areas across the country. Even though it has become a means of livelihood, there is no denying the fact that the Okada riders have become a menace to the society.

A lot of people have been killed, many others maimed due to reckless driving. Besides, a good number of them have assisted armed robbery operations or indeed are armed robbers disguised as Okada riders. Notwithstanding their services to the society, the reckless manner of some of them and their alleged complicity in crimes have prompted many states to ban their operations. Lagos however, is just few of the states in the country where their activities still flourish despite the risk they pose to those that patronize their services.

Taking the law into their own hands as the members did recently in Lagos, vandalising property and aggravating the traffic situation in the state, clearly show how far the operators can go to put the lives of innocent people in harm’s way. We are therefore in support of the current measures to regulate their activities and bring some sanity in their operations. All over the world, government exists primarily to protect lives and property and ensure that no member of the society or group flagrantly flouts the law.

We are in agreement with Governor Fashola that “the only way to stop the business of Okada riders from flourishing is by not patronizing them”. No doubt, some measures might appear harsh and even unpopular. Such may be the case with the current action of the Lagos state government to regulate the operation of the Okada riders. As a matter of fact, some tough decisions are known to have, in the end, benefited the society. Therefore, the  law must be enforced to make that happen.

Nonetheless, we urge the Lagos state law enforcement officers to demonstrate a high sense of responsibility in the implementation of the traffic law. Beyond that, we also advise the state government to fix the roads and make them motorable. It is largely because most roads in the state are inaccessible by vehicles that many are now forced to patronize Okada riders.

This is the time for the Okada riders to look for alternative ways to earn a living.

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  1. DE FOREX MANAGER October 31, 2012 at 6:06 am

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  2. Folorunso October 31, 2012 at 6:19 am

    God bless the Editorial board. Some of them are artisans who abandoned their trade on a flimsy excuse. If all of us are looking for routes of least resistance to sustenance we will get no where. Nigeria will not be able to cope with the health challenge that will ensue from these okada people in the next 10years and their children that they will not be able to send to school.

  3. emir ozi ahmed October 31, 2012 at 8:36 am


  4. Ceejay October 31, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Stopping okada in lagos state will not only reduce crime but increase crime as most youth will resort to pick-pocking as usual. The govt shld have creat a public sensitization programe b4 embarking on such harsh policy as wil enable them sick for altenative means of livelihood.

    • susan November 2, 2012 at 8:01 am


  5. observer October 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm


    When government policies are made without careful thought of the full effects, you can only create more disorder.

    1. What will happen to all those who import the okadas?
    2. What of all those who engage in distribution and sales of the okadas, its spare parts etc?
    3. What of all those okada mechanics that earn a living repairing the okadas?
    4. What sort of law takes what you own and bought with your money forceably and destroy it? If you have a car, think of it bein impounded by the govt and destroyed? A lot of these okada people ‘saved’ hard-earned money to buy the okada. NOTE: they did not loot or politic to get it.
    5. What of the levies that generate revenue for the same govt? Go check if the govt doesnt earn from the activities of the okada people.
    6. When you take the only source of income from someone without an alternative, what do you expect? Prostitution, robery, child labour, homelessness etc Is this govt even prepared to deal with any of these?

    And there’s more..

    All these have not been given thought to. The only two reasons on which all these actions is going on are robbery and accidents which are good reasons. But is this the solution?

    Go to Iyana Iba in Lagos and see people on foot being robbed in broad daylight. Is that Okada? What has been done about it?

    You don’t solve a problem by creating more chaos. If accidents is the problem, train the okada operators and licence them. Or provide an alternative source of income, take the okada from them and set them up in that alternative income source.

    The truth is.. if this continues, more chaos has just been introduced into the society and its only a matter of time before even more casualty figures than the ones being quoted begin to emerge.

  6. BRO. CHRIS NKEM October 31, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    i have read your write up and have no much to say than to advice Fashola and his dubious LASTMA to be careful and mindful while implimenting the law.It may sound sweet and good but have considered the disadvantage implication before forcing the law
    It would have been good had it been that Fashola first and foremost gave the okada riders notice of say six months to enable them look for alternative thing to engage with or to buy Kake Marwa in place of Okada and give them on high purchase as it was done in Owerri Imo State capital fine, but for Lagos state to wake up and start forcing the law without considering some factors thereby throwing many people out of job while creating more unmerited jobs to the dubious LASTMA and the number of armed robbers in the street to harm the innocent citizens.I suggest that FASHOLA SHOULD GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD AND VIEW THE POINTS RAISED ABOVE FOR PROPER FINETUNING.

  7. ik emeka October 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    how many pple were killd by one single airplane crash this year?? why not ban them?? hw many pple hav died wen their boats capsize in mid water? why dont they get banned?? hw many tankers hav wrecked havoc and inestimable desstruction on our roads same with trailers?? why nt ban them??why is this govt too elitist? am so dis appointed ur u know that some pple ar unemployable?? hw do u empower some body who hav no certificate bt can ride a bike?? if the govt launchd poverty alleviation and in their infinite wisdom empowered them why shld lagos state frustrate genuine pple struggling to survive everyday existence by their own sweat? in cotonou okada was provided with their own road so y shld lagos not provide them with their own roads?? hav u tot about the roads? what of the motorcycle sellers and the parts dealers that this ban will put out of buiz??

    • susan November 2, 2012 at 8:05 am

      So people should keep on dying because of okada. Nonsence.

    • Yemi Oladunjoye November 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

      Baseless argument Ik Emeka…..

  8. OWOLABI November 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    There is no excuse for anybody whatsoever to be crazy of the urban settlement in any state in Nigeria today because the infrastructure is no more there to support that. People in the rural area are more organized more than ever before and need just a hardworking and intelligent people to advance. On that background if the okada riders fill that cities like Lagos is no more conducive for God sake why cann’t the leave for the more conducive rural area.Must they go to Lagos before God can answer their prayers. I think the issue of okada business has gone beyond mere enterprise it has become a do or die affairs. In the civilized country of the world reasonable people discover new grounds to explore, which is obtainable in the areas like the rural settlements but In Nigeria the reverse is the case. If anybody engages in any trade even without carrying out any feasibility studies, market viability, turn-over margin , you see every body rushing inside. Today any artisan that is sincere and hard working will find settlement like Lagos conducive why cann’t some of these disengaged okada riders take to professional trades-like plumbing auto mechanics welders to mention but few. Why cann’t they migrate to some outskirt stations outside Lagos state. Do they think it is only Lagos that there fortune resides ? To save the souls of the lazy lagosians the Government should out rightly ban okada commercial operations in the state and stop playing politics. Afterall the yoruba adage says:- Kagbado to de nkan kan ladiye nje. Before okada, people have been leaving on something let them go back or leave Lagos alone .

  9. ik emeka November 3, 2012 at 11:23 am

    @susan nobody is forcing anybody to ride okada..there ar other means of transportation

  10. Yemi Oladunjoye November 3, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Come everyone, is there no other business in town? In fact, what level of positive impart is Okada business to the economy. I am very sure that if many of those speaking here have the opportunity to live outside the country with the whites, your orientation will change. Are we this shallow minded as Nigerians? I feel this in a very good step and we will surely appreciate it later.

  11. bello idowu November 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm


  12. Bls November 3, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    River can okada 3years ago and till today accident robbery and kidnap did not reduce. InFact the ban caused more traffic jam in ph let us just wait a while and see how they will fill the roads with tricycle and other small vehicles

  13. Bls November 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    River ban okada 3 years ago, and till today accident, robbery and kidnap did not reduce. InFact the ban caused more traffic jam in ph. let us just wait a while and see how they will fill the roads with tricycle and other small vehicles.

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