By Jesutomi Akomolafe
With the general elections concluded, there has been a renewed onslaught against motorcycle operators to enforce the Lagos State Traffic Law 2012. In the last one week, officials of the state task force with the full complement of mobile policemen have been raiding and impounding motorcycles seen plying on restricted routes, amounting to over 2,000.
An officer attached to the task force in Ikeja who pleaded for anonymity told The Guardian yesterday that the raid was in reaction to the outcry of the masses. “We embarked on the operation because of citizens’ complaint, which is too much, especially hoodlums snatching people’s bags and phones with the okadas.”
He noted that the clampdown was not to get back at masses but instill some sanity back to the roads by enforcing the law, as laid down in 2012 by the then governor, Babatunde Fashola.
Many who have lost their bikes to the raid said the government is making life complicated for them and their families, as their only source of livelihood depends on daily proceeds. A rider, Anthony Isaac, said: “They are taking our Okadas away now that the elections are over. My bike was seized and when I pleaded with the officers, they asked me to pay N20,000. I borrowed the money to get my Okada back. My friend whose bike was seized has not been able to get his bike back because he has not been able to raise the money.”
Also affected by the clampdown are street hawkers. The fear of the task force Black Maria, for them, is the beginning of wisdom. Most affected areas are Oshodi, Ikeja along, Iyana Ipaja, Cele Express among other areas. Unlucky hawkers daily lose their wares, which are forcefully confiscated by the task force officials.
However, the Commissioner of Police, Zubairu Muazu, yesterday assured that allegations of corruption, extortion against policemen attached to the task force on Environmental Sanitation would be investigated. Acknowledging that he had also received such complaints about the agency, Muazu said he had invited the task force chairman, Olayinka Egbeyemi, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) for a meeting.
Noting that the task force was a state government agency despite having police components in it, Muazu assured that a positive result would come out of the meeting.