The okada as it is popularly called in Nigeria (especially the southern region) is a popular mode of transportation. I am not very sure about its origin but I can assume that it became popular and useful in a city like Lagos where the population is high and there is the issue of traffic congestion. So, the fastest way to move from point A to point B is the motorcycle a.k.a okada. Some of these okada riders can be very reckless, ignoring road signs or not even having an idea what the road signs are and the meaning. I have had some pretty rough experiences and I have been lucky to have escaped being a victim of a motorcycle accident. In fact, I have had one rider say to me after performing some motor gp-like kind of stunts: “oga, you no go tell me make I take am easy?”. I didn’t know if I should laugh, cry, frown or smile. I just paid him and walked away. What I have now learnt to do is to always engage the okada rider in a discussion whenever I notice he is over speeding. I usually begin with: ‘oga how work now?’ and it always works. On this beautiful day, I was on a bike and I didn’t start the conversation, the okada rider did. He told me about how they were been harassed in ikeja, Lagos by LASTMA and how they were getting fed-up and planning on demonstrating and possibly going on strike if the harassment doesn’t stop. It all sounded like a joke because I was asking myself if people will care if okada riders go on strike. He went on to state that the state government wants to ban them completely in Lagos. That also sounded like a joke too because I tried to imagine Lagos as it is now without okadas and it just didn’t fit. There are certain times and places in Lagos where you have no choice but to take a bike if you really need to get to your destination on time.
It got me thinking and I discovered that it is tradition with our government to bark out laws most times without creating an enabling environment for the law to be implemented. In fact, instead of barking certain laws, how about creating solutions to societal problems. I hear people say stuff like: “yeah, ban okadas jor, those guys are useless”. But has that solved the problem of transportation? Let us just imagine that the government decides to repair and maintain existing roads and also build new ones. They introduce many other means of transportation. Open up the water ways, introduce trains etc. Afterall, a city as commercialized as Lagos deserves that and even more. Once people can move from point A to point B on time without using the okada, why would they want to patronize it? We patronize a product/service because we need it. There will always be supply of a product as long as there is constant demand for it. Once you stop patronizing bikes, they will gradually fade away. Our government should create solutions instead of just barking laws. As long as there is still need for the okada, people will keep riding. In fact, if you are conversant with the news, you would have heard of a court order that declares the intention of the Lagos state government to ban okadas in some parts of Ikeja as illegal. well as long as there is a demand for it, people will keep riding. Have your say, what you think?