Lagos offers okada riders job opportunities

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The
Lagos State Government is working on a number of options to engage genuine
commercial motorcycle operators, recently thrown out of jobs as a result of the
implementation of the new traffic law, in meaningful ventures.
The
Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, dropped the hint in Lagos
on Wednesday, stressing that the move was meant to give only the registered
operators a new lease of life.

Many
of the okada riders, as the commercial motorcycle
operators are called, have had to abandon the business, as the new law
prohibits them from plying major roads and bridges in the state. According to
the new traffic law, only those with 200cc engine capacity can operate in the
permitted areas.

Some
aggrieved operators have been protesting against the new policy and a few
people sympathetic to their cause have urged the state government to rescind
its decision in view of the multitude that will be affected.
But
Opeifa, who spoke at the 11th Business Forum of the Lagos State University’s
MBA Heritage held on Lagos Island on Wednesday, said that there was no going
back on the decision.
He
said, “We are resolute about the Road Traffic Law; there is no going back on
it. But we are going to re-certify the okada operators resident in Lagos.
“We
are going to start a registration process, and in the process, if we discover
those who have skills, we will send them to the skill acquisition centres
established by the state government to hone these skills.”
Opeifa,
who spoke on the theme, ‘Effect of Transportation on Nigeria’s Economy,’
stressed that okada could not be
regarded as a means of transportation, as nobody wished to bequeath it as an
inheritance to their children.
The
commissioner, therefore, said the state government would re-register the
operators with a view to providing the genuine ones adversely affected by the
policy other job opportunities.
“Some
of them could be absorbed into the LAGBUS as conductors and drivers. We also
have agriculture, where some of them can also be useful. Apart from our farms
in Lagos, we have bought landed property in Ogun State and Abuja, and we are
going to buy more in Benue for agriculture. So, the options are there for
them,” he said.
According
to him, the state government plans to assist some of the okada riders with the acquisition of skills
to make them employable or to become self-employed.
Opeifa
also said some of them would be assisted to own bakeries after undertaking the
needed training.
But
the Managing Director, Megavons West Africa Limited, Dr. Rotimi Oladele,
expressed the view that theokada business could
be reorganised, and urged the state government to re-brand it as a community
transport system.
Although
Oladele, who was a keynote speaker at the forum, commended the state government
for its efforts in transforming Lagos, he said there was still a need for a
truly masses-oriented means of transport, which the okada business represented.
“Let
us re-brand them as community transport system, license them and restrict them to
their domiciliary local government areas,” he said.
Opeifa
said there was a need for the development of multi-modal transportation system
for the economy to grow.
“The
groundnut pyramids were moved from the North down to Lagos by the railway;
likewise, cocoa and some other farm produce. The system worked then, and all
that seems to have died now,” he said.
Opeifa
advised that the review of the Constitution currently going on should whittle
down some powers of the government at the centre, so that states and local
governments could develop the modes of transportation that suited them.
Source:
Punch

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