By OLUWOLE FAROTIMI
Scores of commercial motorcycle operators popularly known as Okada riders yesterday stormed some parts of Lagos State to protest government clampdown damaging no fewer than 10 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses.
The Okada riders who were said to be piqued by the state government’s enforcement of the new traffic law that led to impounding of over 5000 commercial motorcycles in the state went violent, sabotaging government-owned transport system. The violent protest, which started in Ikorodu area of the state spread to other parts of the state including Ojota, Onipanu and Ejigbo axis. The angry Okada operators, who were prevented from carrying out their activities on the restricted routes, mobilised in groups attacking both the BRT and LAGBUS buses, even as they inflicted injuries on some of the passengers.
Daily Sun observed that there was apprehension at the bus stops, leaving many commuters stranded as commercial bus operators avoided the routes until a team of policemen from the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) was quickly deployed to the area to quell the protest. Daily Sun learnt that some of the protesters arrested by the police were whisked away in police vans. In Ejigbo, Okada riders took over the road, leading to traffic gridlock in the area while they carried leaves and chanted anti-government and solidarity songs.
The Okada riders who vowed to resist governmen’s restriction rejected the ban placed on them from plying 475 roads in Lagos, saying it would cripple their businesses. Speaking on the attack on BRT buses, the spokesperson of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, Mr. Kolawole Ojelabi said the irate Okada operators damaged both BRT and LAGBUS buses.
He said information reaching him from the scene of the protest showed that five BRT buses were destroyed by the protesters. Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ngozi Braide who confirmed the protest, said the police moved swiftly to quell the protest.