Sisi Yemi studied mechanical engineering and hasn't been able to get a job since she left school until Opay launched their bikes. She had always driven her boyfriend's power bike when she was in school but had never thought of riding commercial bikes for a living because of the unregulated nature of that sector.
But she jumped at the Opay structure and became one of the favorite riders of clients around Lagos with her cheerful smile and the way she welcomed clients on her bike. You almost could feel her excitement as she rode with joy and assured you of safety. She smiled home everyday with a minimum of 6k having taken care of other stuff and she was very happy with her life until the Lagos state government showed up.
Unknown to many she has parents in the village who depend on what she sends home monthly since she started the job and she managed to support her kid brother with a token monthly.
What she would do next with this new law is a question no one has thought through.
Seeing Lagosian walk long distance yesterday made you wonder if any of those that made the law ever used our public roads or if they understood the reality of what is on ground?
Our amiable governor gave reasons as the high rate of accidents around Lagos but didn't mention how many deaths tankers have caused across Lagos and how many kidnappings had been carried out by Danfo drivers. How come we didn't extend the same laws to these other means of transportation? My only encounter with 'one chance' was in a danfo bus.
I have taken out time to understand how other nations do things and we could have done the same. If you look up countries with the highest motorbike use in the world you'd realize that the order is;
At least 5 of these countries are way ahead of Nigeria when it comes to development so how have they been able to manage the use of motorbikes? Why didn't we take a trip or run a study of how they have been able to effectively regulate theirs?
One thing we never do here is a proper root cause analysis to fully understand the problems before we come up with solutions. What if the solution to the problem is to evolve a privately run agency that regulates and standardizes these riders?
In my mind I can imagine the value chain. I can already see a school of motorbike riders and courses riders must pass through. I can see a certification body and can see the prescribed bikes that is acceptable in Lagos.
What exactly does it cost to create this because whether we want to run away from our reality or not 'Okada' is a major source of transportation in Nigeria especially when there are so many areas with no good roads. Why do we love to pretend we are Singapore without putting in place facilities that those nations have?
Imagine what can happen with sisi Yemi out of desperation and pressure. Let me paint an extreme scenario where she becomes a prostitute to make ends meet and contracts HIV and spreads HIV around town. Would we then come out as a government and ban sex? What happens if her brother who can no longer get support takes to crime and everyone else whom the riders support? Innocent lives will suffer and we would need to build more prisons right? How would we fund?
Taxes will need to go up right and innocent people will need to pay more tax.
What is the actual cost of getting these bikes off the road?
Let's even assume that the right thing to do is ban them what exactly does it cost us to give them a 6 month grace period in which we can test the buses we plan to introduce? Can these buses run through some of the dead roads in some areas in some Lagos?
I am not one to tell Mr. Governor what to do but I feel a lot more could have been done outside these enforcements because just on Friday our delivery bike was arrested so letters couldn't get delivered to clients and just on Saturday even power bike riders were arrested which should feed us back on how we have placed the cart before the horse except the intention is to create extra income for the law enforcement officers because they will surely start collecting funds from some of these people.
At the Institute of family engineering and development we think family before anything else and we process every problem from a root cause angle because once our premise is wrong our conclusions can't be correct.
We know the problems some bikes have created but there was a time helmet was compulsory across Lagos and there was enforcement but no sooner had the governor who made it happen left than the new one didn't bother to follow up.
We must think what people do to survive. I'd rather retrain the riders and standardize them to be gainfully employed than see them lose jobs and become criminals out of desperation.
I believe our dear Governor can still reconsider his stance and if help is needed we can come show templates and flowcharts of what is possible that can be beneficial to the riders, the government and the people of Lagos.
I am a SAVIOUR
The Institute of Family Engineering and Development