LAGOS State government on Monday released list of the restricted routes for commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada, and tricycles (Keke Marwa).
The state government had earlier announced the restrictions last week Friday with the installation of 2,000 tricycles and Okada prohibited areas signs across major highways and bridges in the state. This installation, it said, was a renewed effort towards creating awareness on the Lagos State Traffic Laws on restricted areas for the operation of motorcycles and Tricycles in the state.
The Commissioner for Transportation Frederic Oladeinde said a good number of the road signs indicated areas where tricycles and motorcycles operations were prohibited, warning that any one that violates the law after this effort, would be punished in accordance with the dictates of the law.
However, Okada riders in Surulere, Mushin, Ojuelegba, Itire and Lawanson parts of the state are protesting what they term “unrealistic” and “extortions” by the police.
They said the 2,000 restricted roads for motorcycles and tricycles are unrealistic. They said the government was simply saying they should not operate in the metropolis again.
An Okada rider union member at Idi-Araba, Mushin, Taiwo Hassan lamented the disturbance of police.
Hassan said since last week that the prohibited areas signs had been installed and the police took opportunity of the government’s action to seize their bikes.
“We were told to pay N10,000 despite the fact that we borrowed money to buy the bikes. The policemen collected my bike on Sunday morning. I paid N10,000 to retrieve it. In the evening, another set of policemen arrested me and collected my bike. They demanded N20,000. How do I make a living with these extortions?
“We are not slaves; we are all Nigerians. We are appealing to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to do something about the situation because the disturbance of police is too much and this is not an expressway that is restricted,” Hassan said.
Mohammed Idris said despite not plying highways, police still chase them within inner streets to arrest them.
“I don’t ply highways. The street where I do park my bike was where police came to arrest me and told me to pay N20,000. I am using the bike to take care of my family,” Idris said.
Eric Nwaturuocha said the prohibited areas signs were installed last week Friday.
“We saw some men who came to install the signboards at the Ishaga Close. When I read it, it says ‘Okada riders, commercial tricycle prohibited.’ So, today our union asked us not to come out. We are protesting against that signboards. That would not allow us to work. The effect it would have on us is that we won’t be able to feed our family, pay school fees, pay house rent and other expenses,” he said.
Linus Benedict said he has been riding Okada for 12 years and didn’t see that restricted routes as workable.
“This restricted roads for us not to ply won’t work. You can imagine government listing Ojuelegba, Surulere and Itire among others. That is why our union leaders said we shouldn’t work today. Since last Friday, Police in Surulere and Mushin have seized the opportunity to extort us. They are arresting Okada riders and collecting N20,000 each to retrieve our bikes.”