Violent protests have become the lot of Lagosians since State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu restricted the operations of commercial motorbikes known locally as Okadas; and three-wheeled motorized rickshaws called Kekes, to the outskirts of the city.
On Monday, February 3, commercial motorcyclists staged a protest in the Ijora-Costain suburb of the city, erected bonfires and exchanged gunfire with police officers.
On Wednesday, February 5, it took a combined team of heavily armed police officers to quell riots in Iyana-Ipaja, another Lagos suburb, over the ban on the operations of the commercial bikers.
At Alaguntan in Iyana-Ipaja, just before 10am, miscreants took over the Lagos State University (LASU)-Igando expressway, vandalized cars and threw the whole of Alimosho local government into pandemonium.
Gunshots would soon ring round one of Lagos’ largest, busiest suburbs and vehicular traffic would engulf Alimosho and surrounding local governments like Ikeja and Lagos mainland.
Before long, banks were forced to shut down and stalls at the Iyana-Ipaja market had to close shop, as police personnel arrived the scene to create more chaos by firing live bullets into the air.
Bonfires were also visible in the distant harmattan fog and a truck belonging to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) was set ablaze by miscreants and okada operators in Aboru, another Iyana-Ipaja community.
One eyewitness told asorockmirror at the scene of the clash that the protesting keke and okada riders pushed the LASTMA van parked on the sidewalk to the center of the road and set it ablaze.
Seizing bikes in an area there aren’t banned
The violence escalated when a government task force team stormed Alimosho to seize okadas even though operations of the motorcycle and tricycle riders have not been banned in Alimosho.
Only six local governments are on the okada ban list.
“While the task force team was arresting and seizing their okadas and kekes, some of them came to the Iyana-Ipaja center to burn the LASTMA vehicle parked opposite the Iyana-Ipaja roundabout bus stop,” another eyewitness shared.
At the time of filing this story, calm and normalcy have been restored to Iyana-Ipaja and most of Alimosho.
The Lagos governor has stated that the ban is irreversible.
On Tuesday, February 4, Gov Sanwo-Olu inaugurated 14 commercial boats–which he says will be increased to 30 by year’s end–as alternatives to commuters in densely populated Lagos.
65 buses have also been rolled out by the governor as okada alternatives, since the ban.
Lagosians say these buses, which are not likely to ply deplorable inner city streets and roads, are grossly inadequate.
“We will sustain the ban on okadas and tricycles, mainly because of security and safety reasons. As a responsible government, we will not fold our arms and allow security breach in the state,” Sanwo-Olu insisted.