Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos has told commercial motorcyclists in the state to turn to farming should the new Traffic Law prove too stiff for them.
At a meeting with the state leadership of commercial motorcycle operators, popularly called okada riders, on Tuesday, the governor said their members were free to leave the job.
Assuring okada riders of government support, Fashola advised that their members who could not cope with the law could “register with the Skill Acquisition Centres across the State or take to farming as a profession.”
No going back
Reacting to public pressure to suspend the law, Fashola said it had come in force since the day it was signed.
“From the day I signed it, it became a law, so the idea of suspending the law is not something I can do even if I wanted to,” he said, stressing that the law was not intended to put people in jail.
“Our intention is to explain to you why this law is in your interest and in the interest of other citizens.”
Pointing out the scores of public petitions he receives about the activities of okada operators, the governor added, “Now you think I am restricting you; some people want you banned?.
In his address, Fashola explained the objectives of the law as including the promotion of safety, good health and improved quality of life for all.
He also urged the operators to first comply with the law before complaining, promising that operational adjustments could be made where genuine complaints arose.
Noting the challenges posed by not regulating the activities of the motorcyclists, Fashola said many women and children had been widowed and orphaned, and some had been maimed by their recklessness on the roads.
?You have a right to do business but that right is not absolute. It means you must respect other people?s rights so that they will respect your own,” he added.
Rising from the meeting, Tijani Pekis, Chairman of the Motorcycle Operators Association of Lagos State, promised to initiate programmes to sensitise their members to ensure total compliance.
He added that the association’s leadership would also assist in the enforcement of the law.
?One big statement that has been giving me problem since I sat here is, am I going to ask my child to come into this business? I think that question has personally knocked me out of the okada business,” he said.