Some residents on Saturday stormed the venue of the Lagos Marathon to protest against the ban of motorcycle and tricycle operations in major parts of the state.
The protesters under the aegis of Occupy Lagos gathered at Eko Atlantic– the finish line of the marathon – displaying placards with various inscriptions to register their dissatisfaction with the government’s decision.
They said the procurement of new ferries by the state government for water transport cannot address the hitches caused by the ban.
Some of the placards read, ‘Regulate not ban,’ ‘Will the ferries come to my street?’ ‘Children are walking, students are walking, workers are walking,’ and ‘You do not build a ‘megacity’ by hiding the poor.’
Policemen formed a line to prevent the protesters from moving forward but there was no incident of manhandling. Several photos of the protest flooded Twitter on Saturday, generating lots of reactions.
“#OccupyLagos is live at the marathon finish line at Eko Atlantic; strictly peaceful, law-abiding and orderly. The message is clear: we do not want a policy that does not work, we do not want a policy that makes life difficult for Lagosians,” a protester, Mocha, wrote on her Twitter handle, @raychellered
Another protester held a placard, lamenting that, “I have not been able to resume in my office at stipulated 8am since this okada ban.”
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A protester donning the Marathon kit said instead of banning commercial motorcycles and tricycles, the government should fix bad roads across the state to solve traffic issue.
Reacting to the protest, a Twitter user, alias Thurlerny, justified the government’s action on the backdrop of menace caused by riders on the roads. He, however, blamed the government for not thinking through the ban.
“Truly, what bikes and tricycles have caused on Lagos roads to vehicle owners and the loss of lives (are serious). But I believe there should be a substitute before eliminating (sic). It shows this government does not have a plan,” he wrote.
One Ladi, @LadiSpeaks, who also participated in the Saturday protest, said it was just the beginning, insisting that the government should listen to the people.
He tweeted, “Public consultation is one of the most vital aspects of governance and Babajide Sanwo-Olu woefully failed at this. There is still some time to redeem himself by listening to the voice of the people.”
However, the Lagos State Government had said it would not reverse the decision restricting operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in six local governments and 15 local councils across the state.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu while speaking at the official launch of commercial operation of water transportation, Lagos Ferry Services, admitted that the restriction was a tough decision but was made in the interest of the people.
“I agree it’s a tough decision we made regarding the restriction of okada and keke in some parts of Lagos but I want to say some facts, which people can debate. The restriction that we have done is primarily based on security and safety of lives of residents. We took the decision based on the level of danger we have seen to have happened to our people.
“As a responsible government, we will not fold our arms and allow okada riders put our lives in danger. One life is more important to us than all the economic benefits to be made if we allowed them to continue. We understand that investment too can be critical, but keeping people alive and safe is more germane,” Sanwo-Olu had said.
The state government on February 1 restricted operations of okada and tricycle riders in Apapa LGA, Apapa Iganmu LCDA, Lagos Mainland LGA, Yaba LCDA, Surulere LGA, Itire-Ikate LCDA, and Coker-Aguda LCDA.
Others are Ikeja LGA, Onigbongbo LCDA, Ojodu LCDA, Eti-Osa LGA, Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA, Iru-Victoria Island LCDA, Lagos Island LGA and Lagos Island East LCDA.
The restriction covered 2,000 routes, including major roads, expressways and bridges. Since the ban took effect in the affected areas, there have been widespread agitations by commuters in the former Nigeria’s commercial capital.