Dear Lagosians. This is the very much dreaded work week following the recent #Okadaban in Lagos.
I am one of the lucky few that don’t have to commute very early. But I have a class for 12noon and the plan is to leave at least two hours before to get ahead of the massive crowds at bus stops. This trip that would normally be 15 minutes. And in case waiting for a bus does not pay off, I’ll begin my Israelite journey in time so as not to miss my schedule.
In the time being, I’m perusing the internet filled with videos of people trekking long distances because bus rates have been spiked and there are not enough for 200million of us.
Their reason. #Okadaban
While I understand there may be some sense to the #Okadaban, as these local Okadas have done a lot of harm and caused a lot of fatalities in many years, I still think the reasons for this particular ban is misplaced.
My own mother will definitely be pleased with this #Okadaban. Because one of her pastimes is to warn us about how dangerous bikes can be, by sharing weird viral videos of doom via WhatsApp.
But the ban is not a well thought out one in my opinion. It includes both bike hailing services that have proven to be safe and reliable and also tricycles (Keke), my own personal favourite.
The “real” reason
Rumours fly and the latest is that the government wants a cut in the share of the huge sums of money that bike mailing services have been getting.
So if you were thinking that the government suddenly decided to look out for your safety, think again. If that’s what they were solely after, they would have started with the tankers parked at Apapa and along Mile 2 that have caused multiple accidents and claimed lives.
No, their pockets may be involved. And how will they understand? Many of them have never been inside a yellow bus all their lives. Have never had to quickly take a bike to meet up with a job interview while stuck in traffic. Have never had to do menial jobs to sustain a family. And the one who have, they have quickly forgotten what that feels like.
It’s so unfair that Lagosians have to suffer for what can only be referred to as a tone-deaf decision. And maybe a glorified bribe that the government is demanding from the investors that gave us in-app Bike hailing services. Those ones that have done everything to be safe and reliable.
Or that thousands of people have to be out of the only jobs that they used to sustain whole families. All this in an instant. So sudden and without alternatives. Now is not the time for Lagos government to take away the jobs that are already existing. If anything, we need more.
The proposed solution
The push is that the #Okadaban should be lifted and these means of transportation regulated instead. Tricycles can be modified for better safety, and regulated bikes should be the only ones allowed.
Hopefully, that happens. The regulation should be strict and tight with the people in mind and with safety and convenience as priority, in this Lagos that everything already seem to be working against people.
For now, let me go get my sandals. There are going to be a few long treks this week.
At least I hope to lose some calories while I’m at it.