The Lagos State Task Force on Sunday said that it had impounded 4,500 motorcycles, which are popularly known as Okada, from riders who had defaulted the states traffic law.
It added that the task force was awaiting the directives of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on whether to destroy them or not.
The Head, Public Affairs Unit of the agency, Mr Taofik Adebayo, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Lagos.
Mr Adebayo said that the enforcement of the laws concerning the safety of lives regarding motorcycle riding in the state had drastically reduced the number of ‘okada’ casualties recorded in hospitals
According to him, Mr Sanwo-Olu during his first 100 days in office said that he will soon give directives on what to do with the impounded bikes in line with the operations of motorcycles in the state.
“We have no less than 4,500 impounded bikes awaiting to be crushed but at present, we are awaiting the Lagos State Government’s directives with the ones we have now.
“We are not relenting and we will continue to impound motorcycles that default as we come by them,” he said.
The officer said that Lagos State being the economic hub of the country, had been attracting people from across the country.
He said that the insurgence that led to the displacement of many people in northern part of the country.
He said that this forced them to migrate to Lagos and take to the motorcycle transportation which they considered as one of the easiest businesses for them.
“Earlier in the month, we intercepted no fewer than 44 people with their bikes in an articulated vehicle coming from the northern part of the country into Lagos.
He said that the task force had to release them because they had proper identification.
“However, there are so many illegal motorcyclists that had slipped our inspection and scrutiny into the metropolitan city through routes that are used to smuggle goods.
“This tells you that bikes still come into the state in their hundreds in spite of arrests been made by law enforcement agencies.
”The influx of these displaced people is what is bringing an increase in the ‘okada’ business in Lagos,” he said.
Mr Adebayo said that the laws regarding motorcycle riding in the state were not punitive in nature but corrective in order to reduce the high incidence of accidents related to motorcycle riding.
“The government did not totally ban okada but instead, restricted their activities to the inner streets of the city with a code of conduct to follow while operating within the specified streets.
“For instance, a rider is not supposed to ride without a helmet, the rider must be above 18 years, the rider must not carry anybody less than 12 years old, the rider cannot carry a woman that has a baby strapped to her back and cannot carry a pregnant woman.
“These are the laws that guide the operations of ‘okada’ riders in the state in order to reduce ‘okada’ related accidents,” he said.
Mr Adebayo also said that the agency had made nothing less that 400 arrests with about 200 prosecutions in the last six months to clamp down on the activities of miscreants operating around the state’s identified blackspot zones.
He, however, said that some of the arrested people who had proper identification and a legitimate means of livelihood were set free once screened by the chairman of the agency, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi.
“We usually carry out the raids at the early hours of the day or very late at night to catch unsuspecting hoodlums when they are at their most vulnerable state.
“During such period, there is no room to start screening and separating the innocent from the guilty but afterwards, the screening takes place and those with valid forms of identification are set free,” he said.
Mr Adebayo said that the raids were in line with the directive of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Zubairu Muazu, to ensure that the state is kept safe and free from the activities of hoodlums.
“As we commence the ‘Ember’ months, we have started a thorough raiding of black spots areas across the state for instance, we recently raided Iyana Ipaja, Ikeja, Oshodi and Afrikan Shrine area.
“One thing discovered in the course of these raids is that most of the miscreants apprehended are teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18.
“There is an 11-year-old boy who was caught and sent to Oregun Correctional Centre for proper rehabilitation,” the officer said.
He also advised people to be careful particularly at night in areas like Akala, Obalende, Ikorodu, Bariga, Shomolu, Alimosho, Mushin which he said were all notorious areas in the state.
“It is not only the responsibility of the task force but of all the security forces in the state to curb crimes and bring an end to the activities of the various sects of cultists in the state.
“We work with other security agencies of government to ensure a robust enforcement of law and order in the state,” he said.