By Oluwatope Lawanson and Solomon Asowata
Lagos – Tricycle operators from Lagos Mainland, Yaba and Oyingbo on Monday staged a peaceful protest at Maryland against the ban on their operations in some parts of the state by the Lagos State Government.
The tricycle operators, commonly referred to as “Keke Maruwa”, urged the government to rescind its ban on commercial motorcycle and tricycle operators in 15 local government and council development areas which began on Feb. 1.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the hundreds of protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as “Create Jobs, Don’t Take Jobs”, “Sanwo-Olu, My Job is My Life” and Maruwa Operators are not Criminals”.
Mr Seun Adeleke, Chairman, National Union of Tricycle Operators, Yaba/Mainland told NAN that the government’s decision was unfair as it would plunge many able-bodied young men into unemployment.
He said: “We are the ones that voted for this government and we need government to support us.
“Look at everybody here now, they want to work. In Yaba/Mainland, we have over 500 tricycle operators and we pay N200 daily to the council.
“So we contribute to the economy and we want to continue to do that. Government should please look into this decision.”
Also, a civil rights activist, Mr Wale Balogun, who mobilised the protest, said commercial motorcycle and tricycle operators were not responsible for the security challenges in Lagos.
Balogun said he was in solidarity with the protesters because he believed that restricting their operations would worsen security in Lagos and neighbouring states.
He said: “Commercial motorcycle and tricycle operators are partners in progress with the Lagos State Government.
“They are the friend of the masses who do not have big cars to ply their roads. Many commuters have been stranded since the ban began.
“We are saying the government should rescind its decision and not plunge these teeming youths into unemployment.”
According to him, if the government had created employment opportunities, many youths will not go into commercial motorcycle and tricycle operation.
“They cannot take away what they did not give. Rather than take to crime, these young people decided to earn their living by riding “Okada” and “Keke”.
“Many are still paying in installments about N1. 2 million and the state government cannot just take this away. How will they feed their families?
“Our appeal is that government should look again at this decision in order not to push these people into criminal activities,” Balogun said.
He commended the protesters for their peaceful conduct, adding that they should not relent in the struggle to be able to earn legitimate income.
NAN reports that Mr Gbenga Omotosho, Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy had on Jan. 27 announced the ban, which he said came after consultations with stakeholders, the State Security Council and in compliance with the extant Transport Sector Reform Law 2018.
He said the ban affects the local governments and the Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) under them.
Omotosho listed the areas as Apapa LG- Apapa Iganmu LCDA, Lagos Mainland LG – Yaba LCDA, Surulere LG- Itire-Ikate and Coker-Aguda LCDAs, Ikeja LG- Onigbongbo and Ojodu LCDAs, Eti-Osa LG- Ikoyi-Obalende and Iru/Victoria Island LCDAs, Lagos Island LG- Lagos Island East LCDA.
According to him the ban is the first stage of the state government’s plan to sanitise its roads and protect the people of the state from the negative effects of illegal modes of transportation.