I am not one the biggest fans of the motorcycle as a means of transportation. I wasn’t always an antagonist; it all started in 2010. My friend was on a bike that collided with a danfo in the Ikorodu area of Lagos.
It wouldn’t have been too bad if that was where it ended, but after she tumbled off the bike, an onrushing bus overran her right hip.
She was a guest of the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, for several months. Ten years on, her life hasn’t been the same. That leg still isn’t the same. Before that experience I was a frequent user of the motorcycle, but in the 10 years that followed I haven’t ridden it up to 10 times. Still, I do not support this wholesale ban on motorcycle and tricycle operations.
We’ll come back to why later. But first, it must be established that the government has valid concerns about “the menace” of bicycles and tricycles.
The Lagos State government says the proscription was prompted by “scary figures” of fatal accidents recorded from operations of okada and Keke NAPEP between 2016 and 2019”.
We’re talking over 10,000 accidents recorded at the general hospitals alone, 600 of which have claimed the lives of their victims. The government is also worried by the use of motorcycle and tricycle as getaway means by criminals. I think we can all agree that these two reasons are legitimate, but do the people deserve this kind punishment?
The ban has abruptly eviscerated the means of livelihood of tens of thousands of Lagosians, mainly the already-poor or semi-poor. There are families just getting by before that will now truly struggle to eat three meals daily.
With the crowds at bus stops and terminuses these days, Nigerians are technically fighting a bloodshed-less civil war to navigate the otherwise simple task of finding a bus to office.
Those who aren’t strong enough for the challenge, or those who aren’t patient enough to wait endless minutes, end up enduring the arduous option of long treks to their office and back home (even at that, not one of them came close to winning the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon on Saturday!). On the bright side, though, the roads seem saner to drive on even if the perennially-heavy Lagos traffic has shown no sign of dissipating.