|Some of the boats launched yesterday|
• Unmasks 15 boats for commercial operation, deploys 65 buses
• Lagos plans 550 minibuses for inner routes to ease pains of commuters
• Hailing okada operators condemn violent protests
• Lagos PDP urges gov to reconsider ban, seeks regulation of transport sector
Acrimony protests over the ban on commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada and tricycles in some parts of the state, Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday maintained that the ban would not be reversed for safety reasons. The governor stated this at the launch of LAGFERRY operations mobile app and commissioning of 14 commercial boats at Badore Ferry Terminal, Ajah.
The governor assured citizens that before the end of the year the ferryboats would be increased to 30 adding that more than 500 buses would be injected into the state bus transport system to ease transportation problems.
Sanwo-Olu said the launch is in fulfillment of his administration’s promise to provide effective and integrated inter modal transportation system. He explained that as a responsible government, his administration would not fold its arms and allow security breach in the state.
“We will sustain the ban on okadas and tricycles, mainly because of security and safety reasons. We will continue to ensure the safety of our people on all fronts. There have been reports of serious security breaches and safety concerns in areas where these operators ply. We had to respond to these concerns because life and safety matters to this government.”
The boats have the capacity to ferry 40 to 60 passengers at a go and will commute passengers from Ikorodu, Ebute Ero, CMS, Badore, and Ikoyi amongst other routes. In his welcome address, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of LAGFERRY, AbdulBaq Ladi Balogun, said the launch would set the next frontier for Lagos economy and chart a new course for water transportation in the state, which will also decongest traffic on the road.
Also, in a demonstration of its concern for commuters, especially those affected by the recent restriction placed on motorcycles and tricycles in some parts of the state, the Lagos State government on Monday deployed a fleet of 65 buses for the use of Lagosians. The buses inaugurated by the Lagos Bus Services Limited were deployed to new routes including Ikeja-Ogba; Berger-Ogba; and Ikeja-CMS. Others were Oshodi-Ajah; Obalende-Ajah; CMS-Ajah and Inner Marina-Ajah.
Speaking before the deployment, the Managing Director/Chief Executive, Lagos Bus Services Limited, Idowu Oguntona, said it was an affirmation of Sanwo-Olu’s pledge to make the welfare of citizens a priority. Oguntona added that the new buses would help reduce the vacuum that might have been created by the restriction of motorcycles and tricycles in 15 local council by conveying a minimum of 35,000 Lagosians daily.
He assured Lagosians that they would enjoy the comfort of the buses on the new routes and that plans are at an advanced stage to add to the fleet, with no less than 550 mini-buses being expected. They would be deployed to inner routes that are not currently being served by the high capacity buses.
Meanwhile, formal motorcycle operators under the Transportation Hailing Alliance of Nigeria (THAN), consisting of MAX, ORide and Gokada, have condemned pockets of violence that surfaced in Lagos in response to the restriction of motorcycle operations within the metropolis. Speaking during an emergency meeting of the operators, the group advised all stakeholders impacted by the issue to continue to explore peaceful channels of engaging the government, as opposed to taking the law into their hands.
The group, while noting that peaceful continued engagement is the only way forward, praised the government for continuing to explore multiple options in dealing with the daunting challenges of transportation in a transition time like this.
Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, the Chief Executive Officer of MAX, Adetayo Bamiduro, said: “While we have directed our drivers to comply with the government’s directive and restrict their operations within the non-restricted routes, we continue to engage the critical government stakeholders in the state’s transport industry in working towards a way forward for operators under the alliance, that best aligns with the government’s intent”
Further speaking on the outcome of the meeting, the Director of Policy and Partnerships at ORide, Seun Alley, said: “As a group, we do not stand for any destruction of private and public property, and as such, we have also issued stern warnings to our drivers to shun any such occasions.
Commenting on how the operators are adapting to the impact of the restrictions on their businesses, the Head of Pilot Operations at Gokada, Victor Daminabo, said: “As an alliance, it is still early days since the announcement, and for now, we are largely focused on helping our drivers navigate how to comply with the announcement on restrictions without running foul of the state’s position. We know there would be long term impacts on our businesses and most importantly on our riders, but in the meantime, it’s compliance mode.”
Chairman, Lagos State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Adedeji Doherty, has said Governor Sanwo-Olu would have better handled the controversies surrounding the ban of commercial motorcycles, tricycles operators in the state if he had called a stakeholders meeting first before taking the decision. In a statement yesterday, Doherty lamented the hardship such decision would lead to considering the number of people whose means of livelihood would be affected.
He, therefore, advised the government to reconsider the ban. He said he was not against an overhaul of the transport sector because there had been demand for strict regulation within the sector in Lagos State way back in 2013. “The government should have considered the significant disruption such a decision would create bearing in mind that around 70 per cent of Lagos citizens use commercial motorcycles and tricycles as a means of transportation.
“The introduction of these alternative means of transportation were as a result of poor planning in the transport sector, which led to a significant deficit in transportation and the never-ending traffic jams in the city. It is common knowledge that government’s inaction to regulate properly at inception had created a disorganised and security hazardous industry, which over the years had blown out of proportion and had become a huge security challenge to the state.”
He noted that what Sanwo-Olu was long overdue but it would have been better received and implemented if there was proper stakeholder engagement and palliative measures put in place to prevent disenfranchisement of the already organised bike transport companies like Gokada, Opay, SafeBoda and others.
“Such deep discussions and palliative measure would also have prevented the thousands of suddenly stranded commuters and thousands of suddenly unemployed citizens as is currently being witnessed. No policy, however, well intentioned can be said to be in the interest of the people if it is not clearly communicated and discussed with stakeholders and a mutual agreement or understanding reached.”
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