By Professor Bamidele Badejo
TRANSPORT SITUATION AND EMERGENCE OF OKADA
The use of the motorcycle as a means of public transportation is a popular phenomenon across nations of the world especially in the low and middle income countries (WHO, 2004). In Nigeria, this para-transit contraption popularly called “Okada” initially emerged as a means of transportation within rural communities (Tijani, 2013). Nwaorgu; (2011) noted that “Okada” however found its way as a means of public transportation within the county’s cities from late 80’s to early 90’s. Several reasons have been advanced for their emergence as an acceptable means of public transportation within Nigeria’s urban and city landscape. These include
Nigeria’s economic depression in the early eighties led to massive unemployment (Ogunsanya and Galtima, 1993), decrease in the supply of new vehicles (Oyesiku, 2002), drop in the quantity and quality of public transport services, ease which “Okada” negotiates traffic congestion (Asekhame and Oisamoje, 2013), political patronage of operators, ease of access to the service (Oluwaseyi et al., 2014; Olusanya, 2011) and finally lack of an articulated transport policy structure to ensure sustainable development of transport infrastructure capacity (Badejo, 2011). Oluwaseyi et al. (2014) further opined that Lagos state status as a former federal capital, chief commercial and industrial city, chief port city, the most densely populated area in Nigeria and the economic power base of Nigeria culminated in emergence of commercial motorcycle operations in 1992. Their rapid growth and prominence in the metropolis is therefore associated with the effort to cope with various mobility deficiency of public transportation particularly the endemic traffic gridlock, an insignia of Lagos. As at 1995, an estimated 450,000 motorcycles operated within the metropolis alone (Oluwaseyi et al., 2014).
*Security and safety challenges
*Inefficiency in Operations
*High incidence of Okada crashes
*Entropy i.e. confusion on the highways
*None compliance with extant traffic rules and regulations
*High level of indiscipline and harassment
*Social, environment and economic implications
ATTEMPTS AT REGULATING OKADA (1999 – 2012)
Various efforts have been pursued to regulate the operational activities and compliance among Okada operators. All attempts made to order their modes of operation have not been effectively result oriented. This is because of the level of indiscipline and recalcitrant behavioural attitude of Okada operators and their unions.
CONSEQUENCES OF OKADA OPERATIONS AND THE NEED TO BAN OKADA
1. Operations Point of View:
*Poor service quality delivery.
2. Strategic Planning Point of View:
*Okada cannot be factored into the Smart City Development Agenda of the State;
*Does not comply with the Global Best Practices for mobility infrastructure development;
*Very informal and chaotic.
3. Health Consequences
*Prevailing use / Abuse of Drugs substances
*Stress / Fatigue
4. Social Implications / Rationale
*Myraids of Underemployment (about 72.5% of riders are within the age bracket of 20– 39years).
*Accident / crashes (92.5% have been involved in one form of cycle accident / crash).
5. Economic Implication
6. Environmental Implication
7. Security / Safety Quagmire / Challenges
8. Labour / Human Resources Implication
* Loss / declining skilled artisan workforce
* Destroyed labour / artisan workforce and vocational activities
To evolve a comprehensive and integrated Transport Policy and infrastructure Master plan development framework;
Focus urgently on Integrated and intermodal transport infrastructure development (Road, Rail, Inland Waterways and Communications);
To deliver efficient, reliable, safe and quality Public Transport System especially with high capacity occupancy;
To improve enforcement capacity amongst enforcement agencies and to equip them with relevant facilities to operate efficiently;
Improved deployment of integrated transport technologies and systems to compliment other traffic and transport management strategies;
Improving the main road transport corridors by removing all contraventions and impediments illegally operating along the established Right-of-Ways (ROW);
Human capacity and resource development – Professionalism;
Accelerate the rail link between Ebute-Metta and the Apapa Port to abate competition along the road mode;
Robust Public Engagement, enlightenment, education and awareness among the entire spectrum of stakeholders;
Finally, Planning with and not Planning for is essentially the way to go.
There is need to ensure that the ban placed on Okada is permanent and other areas of the state yet to be affected by the ban should be considered for continuous elimination from the Lagos highways. However, there is urgent need to respond to the vacuum and gap created by the ban placed on Okada through improved public transportation system, urgent intermodal and integrated transport infrastructure development response.
The fear by Okada riders concerning unemployment should be addressed through robust public enlightenment and engagement strategy because the response from government to improve transportation from an intermodal and integrated point of view is an inroad for employment opportunities as well as improved health situation and social sustainability.
Professor Bamidele Badejo
Department of Geography,
Olabisi Onabanjo University,
Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.