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Nigeria: ‘Okada’ Motorbike Taxi Ban Despite Lack of Public Transport

Okada is a local parlance for commercial motorcycle taxis in Nigeria, where public transportation is non-existent, traffic snarls up most cities and potholes mark most roads. However, the Lagos State Government has restricted the operation of these commercial bikes to certain roads.

News of this proposal has not gone down well with Okada riders, and reactions have echoed into the blogosphere.

The government hinged its action on a recent road traffic legislation edit, which states amongst other things that:

Okada in Kano, Nigeria. Image released by Andy Waite under Creative Commons (Attribution-Share Alike 3.0).

Okada in Kano, Nigeria. Image released by Andy Waite under Creative Commons (Attribution-Share Alike 3.0).

Control of Motorcycles, Tricycles: 3. (1) No person shall ride, drive or propel a cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on any of the routes specified in Schedule II to this Law.


Prohibited Routes for Motorcycle and Tricycle

[Section 3]

Major Highways in Lagos

1. Lagos Ibadan Expressway

2. Apapa Oshodi Expressway

3. Oworoshoki Oshodi Expressway

4. Lagos Ikorodu Expressway

5. Lagos Abeokuta Expressway

6. Babangida Bouleverde

7. Eti-Osa Lekki Epe Expressway

8. Lagos Badagry Expressway

9. Funsho Williams Avenue

10. Agege Motor Road

11. Eti-Osa Lekki Coastal Road

The government has insisted that violation of the law will be punished:

The Lagos State Government has declared total war on commercial motorcycle riders also known as okada riders plying the 475 prohibited routes in the Lagos metropolis. It said police enforcement of the ban was just a tip of the iceberg of what would befall the riders still flouting government’s order that they avoid the prohibited routes.

Twitter reactions have been varied, although the majority are against the ban. The reasons are varied:

‏@sheikhofeffizy: … I personally think okadas shd b banned nationwide..Its working beautifully in Enugu..errone [everyone] will adapt

‏@rmajayi: @sheikhofeffizy Yes, Okada are dangerous. Why not introduce safety measures – Okada licenses, helmets etc?

‏@Ayourb: The way BRF [Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola] handled Lekki toll, Lasu Fee hike, Doctors strike, Tejuosho market & now Okada, he has proven to be a callous unfeeling brute.

‏@Anirvachan: Dear @tundefashola sir, when someone has a headache, would you cut off the head? Answer is to enforce law not remove okada

‏@bhadoosky: If over 1million Okada Riders are restricted/banned…what will dey do for living? Additional 1million Armed Robbers for Lasgidi peeps

‏@djbuzzle: Okada Riders & Market Women are the Major Voters in Nigeria during any Election. Banning of Okada bcos u know u're not Coming back is BAD:|

‏@NaijaCyberHack: One of d major reasons people take okada is ‘cos of traffic jam,which in most part of Lagos is caused by bad road,y not repair these roads?

‏@daSuspekt: The Worst Mistake FASHOLA ll Make Is Banning Okada and NOT Making Proper Transportation Provision. BRT nor dey go Everywhere O!

‏@umaryf: Kano state the commercial hub of okadas in Africa is not willing to ban okada why Lagos???

‏@Elsieisy: Fashola, after making me trek today ehn, God is watching u in 3D! :'( I duuno what okada pple did to him o

But not all are complaining. Some are in support of the government’s action:

‏@4eyedmonk: Okada was not banned in Lagos, but on 475 roads. Tricycles have also not been banned at all. Okada riders are to blame for their predicament

‏@dockie007: why are u all complaining about Fashola..I guess those complaining have never lost a family member to an okada accident….smh

‏@sandychic1234: With or without the ban of Okada, bad boys will still do their “thing”! #fact

‏@DTRUCE: So I heard from a very reliable source, that fashola is partnering with the chinese to build a new railway system, thus the ban on okada.

This last tweet referencing the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, got numerous retweets. In a country that worships football, the humour is not lost:

‏@desmondc03: FOOTBALL inside POLITICS: Governor Fashola who's a Manchester untd fan has rendered 80% of Chelsea fans (okada rider) jobless in Lagos.

Rather than provide alternatives to the transport problem for poor people, with the Okada restrictions the government seem to have only entrenched a growing attitude – that it does not care about public opinion.


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