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On February 1, 2020, the ban of the Lagos State Government (Africa’s industrial hub) on commercial bike riders (popularly referred as Okada) and tricyclists (popular as Marwa or Keke) became effective. In line with the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law 2018, the State government enacted the ban in six major local government areas and nine local council development areas of the state. The ban was equally extended to 10 major highways and 40 bridges and highways in Nigeria’s commercial capital.

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The government, while defending its ban, noted that “scary figures,’’ registered from preventable fatal accidents caused by Okada and Keke drivers in the state between 2016 and 2019, resulted in the decision to proscribe the use of bike and tricycles in major areas of the state. Going further to stress that disobedience to traffic laws on the part of the commercial bike and tricycle riders, and their movements on restricted highways is a great cause of traffic jams in the state.

The figures are scary. From 2016 to 2019, there were over 10,000 accidents recorded at the general hospitals alone. This number excludes unreported cases and those recorded by other hospitals. The total number of deaths from reported cases is over 600 as of today

Gbenga Omotosho (Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy)

Lagosians did not meet the ban in good light as there have been mixed reactions. Connect Nigeria’s Ugo Chinedu engaged some of them on the effect of the ban on their daily lives.

Dio Peter Omotolani, a Lagosian who recides at Obawole and works at Allen, Opebi Road, Ikeja, described the ban as ‘’colossal failure,’’ and lamented the increased stress he faces daily while trying to remain punctual to work and having to go through extra stress while trying to reach home from work.

Prior the ban on Keke and Okada, I leave for work by 7am and reach office by 7:30am. Currently, despite leaving home by 6am, I still struggle to reach work by 8:00am because I have to join the long queue of people trying to reach Allen (Ikeja) from Ogba , or wait patiently for a good Samaritan to get a free ride…The experience is worse in the evening because there are no transport means of accessing Ogba through Allen, except you plead with private commuters to help out

Dio Peter Omotolani

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Oyakhire Elizabeth who works on the Island and lives in Surulere had a similar story to tell

The trekking leaves you frustrated with no means of transport in sight. I have to walk for about 10 minutes before reaching the location I can access a bus to the Island. I have to be lucky to meet any bus in sight or wait for hours before departing for the Island

Oyakhire Elizabeth

Elizabeth while lamenting the ban, stated at about 8:28 am on February 24, 2020, that she was still trying to reach the Island for work on a Monday, same issue Dio Peter lamented due to heavy traffic.

The gridlock in Lagos is presently on a high because hitherto, people who own cars prefer to use commercial transport to save cost and reach work faster. With the ban, we have more cars on the road now, causing heavy traffic

Dio Peter

Dio Peter and Elizabeth both do not think the ban should be rescinded but urged the government to provide alternatives and add more buses on routes affected, while also urging the government to provide an alternative means of livelihood for affected citizens.

I think the government should provide job opportunities for affected commercial riders especially bike riders and deploy more buses to affected routes


It is a pity to note that some of the busiest routes in the state such as Ikeja GRA, Opebi, Allen, and Maryland, have no BRT buses linking them. I would advise that the government empower people with the small shuttle popular here as Korope, it will serve as perfect alternative for Keke


Sholaja Olalekan, a resident of Magodo, Ikosi Isheri Local Government Area, defended the government’s ban on Okada and Keke but urged the government to do better by providing an affordable and faster means of transport to affected areas to save citizens from stress.

The government has given us beautiful reasons for the ban…I suggest the government should provide an affordable and faster means of transporting people in affected areas, to save people from stress

Sholaja Olalekan


Punch NG

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This article was first published on 3rd March 2020


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