When this ban was announced, Lagos residents had mixed feelings: it was seen as both necessary and premature. The authorities seem to have made this decision without considering its effects, since they have not come up with any solutions to replace the okadas.
Lagos’ public transportation is lacking, so nearly everyone drives a car, which causes huge traffic jams. People who have cars still regularly use okadas, because it’s the quickest way to get around. There’s a love-hate relationship between Lagos residents and okadas. On one hand, they’re extremely handy when you’re in a hurry, but on the other, criminals can make a quick getaway by hopping on them after they snatch your belongings in the middle of a traffic jam. And then, of course, there’s the fact that they’re at the root of many accidents.
Okadas have been banned in other Nigerian cities, like Port Harcourt, Warri and Abuja. I lived in Port Harcourt two years ago, when the ban came into effect. I don’t know if the crime rate went down, but there were much fewer accidents.
In Lagos, okadas feed many people: thousands of impoverished Nigerians who could easily have become delinquents drive okadas to make ends meet in a legal manner. As a group, however, okada drivers are viewed as a menace to society. I worry about what will happen to them now.