Commercial motorcycle operators, comprising Gokada, Max and 1st Ride companies, on Friday staged a peaceful protest against the recent ban of their operations in parts of Lagos State.
The operators, who protested from Ojota area to the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ikeja, called on the state government to regulate their operations rather than ban them.
Mr Steve Orajiaku of 1st Ride company, told newsmen that the state government did not consult with the operators before taking the decision.
“We are not happy with the way the ban was done.
“We believe we are running a democratic government where a decision of this sort, very crucial to the lives of people, irrespective of whatever the reason is, is about to be taken, and the stakeholders were ignored. It is unfair, sir.
“We are here to say that the decision that Lagos State Government has taken should be suspended for now, we are pleading.
“What we are here for is not to cause any mayhem, it is not to also insult your personality, we are here because we are law-abiding citizens,” Orajiaku said.
He said that the operators were aware of government’s concern about security and lives of people.
According to him, the operators are educated and professionals, and have been riding the motorcycles without accidents.
Uche Ekemiri from Gokada, said the operators had obeyed the government’s law by upgrading their bikes, and had undergone intensive training to ensure their capabilities of taking the job.
“Our bikes have tracking devices and camera. We went for blood and eye tests. Government should call us and see the possibility of regulating us.
“We pay tax to government, and we are ready to have license; government just woke up one day and banned us.
“I don’t see reasons they should ban us. This is what we do for a living,” Ekemiri said.
A female operator, Sandra Ebina of Gokada, said the proceeds from riding commercial motorcycles had helped her to further her education.
Ebina appealed to the state government to have a rethink on the ban, as it would affect her livelihood and those of other riders.
She said:“I am an accountant; I finished my OND from YabaTech. This is the job I do to train myself in school. If I leave this job, there is nothing else for me to do.
“Government should regulate us and not ban us. We are professionals. This is what we do to feed our families. Where do we go from here?”
Responding, Mr Bisi Yusuf, representing Alimosho Constituency 1, on behalf of the Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, commended the protesters for being peaceful.
Yusuf urged them to abide by the new ban, pending when the state government would decide on their requests.
“Protest is an ingredient of democracy. We commend you for the peaceful demonstration. We will go through your petition.
“However, we urge you to keep cool and keep to the law, until we call you back. Government has made pronouncement on the issue. Don’t allow anybody to hijack the protest because you will be held responsible for it.
“Very soon, we will call you. Maintain the law. It is when the government sees your conduct that they will know what to do,” he said.