The Lagos State Government on February 1, 2020, enforced its ban on the activities of commercial motorbikes known locally as Okada, and three-wheeled motorized rickshaws called Keke.
While the government has given a lot of reasons for enforcing the law on these Okadas that have existed since 2012, the most prominent explanations have been security, safety and, to a greater extent, a part of the “Greater Lagos” masterplan.
In spite of these reasons, the ban’s inclusion of bike-hailing services such as ORide, Gokada, and Max – who are said to be more coordinated and accountable than the local Okada, have raised suspicions that there’s more to the ban than meets the eye.
“The truth is that okada, no matter what fanciful name it’s called, is not part of the Greater Lagos journey on which we have embarked.” – LASG
It might be delightful to some that Sanwo-Olu’s smart city concept for Lagos does not include any Okada’s or Keke’s, but piecing together the remaining parts of the puzzle, one can conclude that the government aims to eliminate the kind of “foreign” crowd that this particular line of business attracts.
You’d recall that in August 2019, the Lagos State Environment Sanitation and Special Offenses Taskforce intercepted a truck transporting 48 motorcycles and 123 men into Lagos from the northern state of Jigawa. The arrest and detention of the men sparked criticism at the time, with many questioning the government’s motive for detaining citizens from a region of the country where terrorism remains a serious concern. In the end, it was another unruly influx of “foreigners” that have worried successive Lagos State administrations.
The State’s Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Fedrick Oladehinde, in a recent interview, stated that the current government is wary of Lagos becoming the dumping ground that absorbs everything from Nigeria, hence certain measures are in place to address the issue.
In his words;
“It’s not sustainable so we have to make it difficult for people to come into Lagos because the people that we want to come are people that will contribute to the economy, abide by our laws, and improve the quality of life. We have put certain measures in place to ensure that we protect that.”
Correspondingly, Mr. Governor (as he wishes to be addressed) has addressed the situation with his recent executive decision that will undoubtedly have a great impact on the lives of millions of Lagosians, for better or for worse.
Will this move truly increase or at least allow the kind of people that will boost the economy of Lagos state? Will the Okada ban make for a Greater Lagos or is this just another political propaganda?