It was no longer business as usual around the Apapa ports, in Lagos, as clearing agents, dockworkers and other businessmen found it difficult to access the seaports due to the recent ban placed on commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada along the axis.
Dockworkers, who spoke to media source, condemned the action with many appealing to the State Government to give special consideration due to the peculiar situation of Apapa road, and its state of dilapidation for many years.
Since the complete collapse of the roads inward and outward of the TinCan and Apapa ports, clearing agents, dockworkers, Customs officers among others, had resolved to taking motorbikes, as an alternative means of transportation.
A Clearing Agent, Segun Azeez, said the government should have considered the Apapa roads, dilapidation which imposed the use of Okada by commuters and ports users.
He said the ports access roads are not motorable, thereby making it out of place for the government to ban the use of motorbikes on those roads.
“How do we get to the ports? Do you expect us to trek from Mile 2 to Apapa? This decision is shameful. It only showed that this reigning government is insensitive to the plight of the people,” he lamented.
A dockworker, Ben Adeze, told The Guardian that it has been a herculean task to get to Apapa port since the commencement of the Okada ban last Saturday, adding that the policy further worsened the suffering of dockworkers rather than alleviating it.
“It’s so unfortunate. We are really suffering in Apapa because of these bad roads. Our only means of transportation is Okada, and now it has been banned. This is sad. Government should facilitate construction works on the road so that people can have easy access to the ports,” he said.
An Okada Rider, who identifies himself simply as Musa, said he is likely to relocate to the North, because the ban has rendered him jobless.
Besides, he alleged that since the pronouncement of the ban, taskforce operatives on the roads have taken advantage of the situation to extort Okada riders.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), in a statement made available to The Guardian has also criticised the State Government’s action, saying the ban would bring more pain than relief to Lagosians, given the traffic gridlock in the state.
CACOL’s Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, was quoted as describing the ban as “a fire brigade approach”.
CACOL argued that with the level of poverty in Nigeria, the education of many children is tied to the operations of the okada and tricycle riders to get to their various schools, while many otherwise unemployed people had been gainfully employed through such means of transportation.