Nigeria: Lagos Commercial Motorcyclists Go On the Rampage

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Africa, World
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Commercial motorcycle operators, better known as Okada riders, Monday marched on to Lagos streets to protest the state’s new traffic law, which restricts their movement on about 475 strategic roads in the state.

The protests, which took place in many parts of the state including Ikorodu, Ejigbo and Onipanu resulted in a traffic gridlock in most part of Lagos as the motorcyclists impeded the free flow of traffic in the city. Other areas included Ijora Olopa, along 7up Road, Mashalasi and Ladipo.

Some of the protesters also took out their anger on the government-backed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, vandalising 10 of the buses and attacking commuters in them.

However, a team of security operatives from the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) was quickly deployed to the troubled spots to restore order.

THISDAY learnt that the protests began in the early hours of Monday when hundreds of the commercial motorcyclists stormed Onipanu on Ikorodu Road, calling for the abrogation of the traffic law, which the Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), assented to on August 2.

The protest, which was said to have started peacefully, degenerated into violence when the motorcyclists began attacking BRT buses.

In Ejigbo, a Lagos suburb, eyewitnesses said the motorcyclists, who had poured into the streets to protest the traffic law, resorted to chanting anti-government slogans while demanding the reversal of the traffic law, which they said would negatively affect their means of livelihood and economic welfare.

There were also reports of violent protests in Ikorodu, during which the motorcyclists blocked a stretch of the Ikorodu-Mile 12 carriageway, impeding the free flow of traffic.

THISDAY learnt that some of the operators were arrested, though the police declined to give details on the number of protesters who were apprehended in connection with the protests.

Lagos State Police Public Relations Officers (PPRO), Mrs. Ngozi Braide, confirmed the protests, saying the police had restored order. She, however, declined to give the number of those arrested.

She urged Lagos residents to go about their normal activities without fear, assuring them that the police were ready to maintain public order and safety at all times.

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