The governor of Lagos state, Mr Sanwo-Olu, last June imposed a fresh ban on commercial motorcycles, popularly known as ‘okada’ from operating in six local government areas – Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Apapa, and Surulere.
While the ban was met with contradicting opinions from the people, tricycle riders popularly referred to as ‘keke riders, continue to celebrate their new found fortune.
Residents of the affected areas who formerly used motorcycles as their primary means of transportation, are left to choose between trekking or boarding tricycles. Many of which opt for the latter.
Seyi Showonmi is one of the tricycle drivers in the affected areas, who continues to celebrate the ban of motorcycles because of the increased passengers he has, which has in turn increased his wage.
“If it’s you, you have a rival, when the rival travels won’t you be happy?” He commented.
Previously he struggled with paying his children’s school fees along with his tricycle bills, however with the increment in his wage – following the ban of motorcycles – this is no longer the case.
Narrating how he struggled to pay his tricycle bills, he said “Sometimes you have to starve yourself, sometimes we will not drop money for house, but now, it’s easy to pay for it.”
Corroborating the former, Olakunle Oyenigba, a tricycle rider in Yaba, noted that with the ban, his wage has almost doubled, hence his joy. “Assuming I’m making 2k then (N2000), now I’m making N3500,” he said.
Bus drivers also have a fair share in the gain experience by the tricycle riders and the pain of the passengers. However, tricycle riders have upper hands in the gain. This is the case for Zephaniah Igboke, a bus rider in Surulere who, with the increment in his wage, finds ease in the installmental payment of his tricycle bills unlike before.
“When I bought this bus I could only pay half of the price as down payment. I therefore made a commitment to pay the rest on a monthly payment of Twenty Five Thousand (N25.00.00) Naira. This sum I normally use an average of five days to make but with the ban on ;Okada; I only have to work for two days. This is actually reducing my stress level.” Igboke concluded
While some residents have adapted to the use of motorcycles as their primary means of transportation, others lament it’s inadequacy.
Mary Ndunatum, a worker in Ikeja, narrates how it has been difficult for her to arrive office early since the ban on Okada. To her, this challenge of arriving early to work had been caused due to the low number of tricycle available in comparison with the number of passengers, “When bikes (motorcycles) were available, it helped the crowd. When you get to the bus stop you don’t have to wait too long;;”
“But now that there is no bike, people that were using Okada’ as means of transportation before had now joined the crowd that wait for tricycle (keke) and buses. This is adding to the crowd in each bus stop every morning and evening- which are considered as the rush hours, Mary said.
Mary also expressed her outburst against okada ban by saying the ban had given tricycle riders untold opportunity to hike the transportation price, biting deep into her meager salary.
Similarly, Esther Efiong, a resident in Surulere, stated that tricycles are unable to enter some narrow streets -where a motorcycle can easily navigate – causing her to trek long distances before she can finds a tricycle to board.
“Most times I want to go to work, I will have to trek halfway before I can get a tricycle to wherever I’m going.”
The residents’, in the affected 6 local governments and LCDAs, appealed to the government to restrict the ban to only highways and allow motorcycles to work in streets.