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Okada Ban In Lagos: A Government Basking In Its Echo Chamber

On Monday, January 27, 2020, the Lagos government announced a ban on the activities of Okada (Motorcycles) and Keke Napeps (Tricycles) in some Local Government Areas like Apapa, Lagos Mainland, Surulere, Eti Osa, Lagos Island, Ikeja, major bridges and highways from February 1.

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The government said that a fleet of 65 buses and 14 ferries will be commissioned to ply the major routes in the state as from Monday, February 3, 2020. And the question pops: what can 65 buses and 14 ferries do to alleviate the pressure of the motorcycle and Tricycle ban?

Subsequently, a statement by the Lagos government on Sunday assumed that compliance with the directive showed that the people of Lagos are happy with the Okada and motorcycle ban;

“The high level of compliance has shown that Lagosians agree with the government on the need to stop the danger that commercial motorcycles and tricycles have become – a big threat to safety of lives and security of our people.”

When a government wants to hear its own voice in its echo chamber so much, it creates narratives that are totally at odds with the situation on the ground.

While the main reasons for the ban are yet to be revealed, some quarters have suggested some of their own theories on the ban while totally disbelieving the Lagos government’s account and casting it into the bin.

Some analysts have suggested that the move is to reduce the number of people flocking into Lagos to operate Keke and Okada from all parts of Nigeria. Others have suggested that it is another cunning move by the Lagos cabal to further monopolize the transport market in Lagos.

Recall that a chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo is a known backer and godson of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

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Many believe that the current Lagos governor, despite optics showing that he would be willing to support motorcycle hailing startup companies such as Gokada, ORide, MAX and others, would be more disposed to do the biding of his godfather, Tinubu, and/or MC Oluomo himself.

Just recently, in November 2019, after a protracted rift by the NURTW with these motorcycle hailing businesses, the Lagos government helped broker a truce between the two parties on levy collection whilst the state government helped itself to a taxable quota in the NURTW Levy deal. For the ban to now have been implemented after a few months shows either a quick turnaround in the decisions of the power-brokers or a more favourable alternative deal has been proposed behind the door to the government headed by Governor Babajide Sanwoolu.

In fact, this is one of the reasons why the cause of the ban which was given by the Lagos state government remains untenable. It is hardly possible that the Sanwoolu government will have brokered a deal for Motorcycle hailing and a few months after declared them banned for being the cause of notorious traffic gridlock which has haunted Lagos for decades.

The extent to which the motorcycle and Keke ban will be affecting businesses within the Lagos metropolis, on the logistics of workers who mostly ply the Mainland to Island route and the other unintended stressors attached to that shoddy decision by the government is unfathomable.

Lagosians have begun to groan in pain per the effects of the ban. This policy by Sanwoolu and the Bourdillon cabal may be a defining and waking moment for the fate of the Tinubu hegemony in Lagos. Perhaps, the elites, the middle class and the lower class in Lagos who stood back during the elections last year may now be waiting for 2023 to come so fast so that they could send the notorious Landlords of Lagos packing in a surprising sweep.  


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Macaddy Gad

Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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