First of all... "Eko Oni baje o"
Fewer bikes, safer streets: Lagos counts blessings of Okada ban
Written by Chukwuma Omparaocha-Lagos Saturday, 14 September 2013
OVER a year since the Lagos State Traffic Law was promulgated, there has been a ‘marked reduction’ in the rate of okada-related road accidents, according to statistics from the state sector of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
Since the traffic law was promulgated in Lagos in August 2012, road crashes, especially those involving commercial motorcycles (popularly called okada), have reduced by at least 28.2 per cent, according to FRSC data. Information made available by FRSC showed that there has been a gradual but steady decline in the rate of okada-related accidents in the state.
In the last one year, about 609 road accidents had been recorded, in which 122 persons were killed and 1,567 suffered various degrees of body injury. This, according to FRSC, translates to 28.2 per cent reduction in crash frequency which stood at 781 in the months preceding the introduction of the new traffic law, with special focus on the ban restriction on okada operation on a number of routes.
These figures were recently corroborated by the immediate past Lagos Sector Commander of the FRSC, Nseobong Akpabio, who had declared that the command, during the period under review, succeeded in reducing road accidents by enforcing traffic laws as well as educating offenders more on road traffic regulations.
According to him, as a result of the enforcement of the okada restriction as well as improvement in public enlightenment programmes, fatality figures during road accidents have also plummeted by 41.6 per cent, compared to the preceding 16 months when 209 were recorded.
Akpabio had also revealed that the number of people injured during the period under review stood at 1,567 – a marked reduction of 11.9 per cent from the previous figure of 1,778.
However the Lagos State government had, in April this year, disclosed that 13,398 road accidents, which included commercial motorcycles, were recorded in the last 15 months. It said out of those accidents, 148 deaths were recorded.
According to the statistics made available by the state government, out of the 13,398 road traffic accidents recorded in the state from January 2012 to March 2013, vehicles accounted for 7,267, while 6,131 okada accidents were recorded in the last 15 months.
But the government, through the Ministry of Transport, had insisted that as of March 2013, okada-related accidents had declined to 126, a feat the government attributed to the enforcement of its road traffic law.
At the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, widely regarded as the major destination for trauma and accident victims in South-West Nigeria, statistics show that there has been a drop in the number of victims involved in okada-related accidents since the ban took effect.
The hospital’s Head of Emergency Department, Dr. Osita Obianyor, who compared the number of okada-related accident victims over a 16-month period, covering the period before and after the partial ban, said the drop had been about 10 per cent.
“The rate of okada-related accidents has generally reduced in terms of statistics. Before the ban, between January and August 2012, we saw 423 patients that had okada accidents. In a similar eight-month period, from September 2012 to April 2013, we saw 379 patients involved in okada-related accidents,” he had noted.
In May, this year, the Lagos State governor, Mr Babatunde
Fashola, had disclosed that despite the criticisms that greeted the introduction of the road traffic law, its positive effects were becoming manifest in the reduction of fatalities on Lagos roads, especially accidents involving okada.
He said before the advent of the law, about 646 okada accident cases were recorded on a monthly basis in the state but as of March this year, 120 cases were recorded.
The governor said, “Before the road traffic law, okada-related deaths in the state on monthly basis were between 12 and 15, but only four deaths have been recorded so far this year.
“If this is what the law has been able to achieve, I am proud to be the head of the government which made it possible.”
However, it is not yet uhuru for okada-related accidents in the state, as the state government has also recently expressed worry over rising cases of deliberate flouting of traffic but also regulations, not only by commercial motorcycle riders, drivers and even pedestrians.
Giving this indication recently, the state Commissioner for Transport, Kayode Opeifa, said that despite earlier success rate recorded, especially late last year after the law was introduced, there was a steady increase in January this year.
Blaming this on continuous flouting of traffic laws in the state, the commissioner said, “When we began the enforcement of the law, the total number of vehicles impounded in September reduced by 386 (16.9 per cent) and 818 (35.9 per cent) in December 2012, which showed voluntary compliance by the residents of the state.
“This showed that there was a sharp drop in the number of total violation from October to December 2012. However, the number of total violation began to rise steadily with a peak in February 2013,” he said.
He also added that in January 5,624, traffic laws were violated by road users; in February, it rose to 6, 952, while March had 6, 566. And vehicles apprehended by the men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) also increased from 1, 854 in January to 2011 in March 2013.
“This suggests that there is need for continuous enforcement activities and public enlightenment to sustain compliance with the law,” Opeifa said.