In the 1980’s a Nigerian entrepreneur called Gabriel Igbinedion watched his entrepreneur’s dream turn into a Nigerian nightmare.
He set up an indigenous airline – Okada Air - that he elected to name after his hometown of Okada in Edo State. Later the airline became defunct, but the concept of the airline and its notoriety for being "the shortest distance between two points" took on a new and grave – for the image of the poor town of Okada – meaning, as it became synonymous with a "flying motorcycle taxi service"; thus came the term "taking Okada" and its reference to sitting pillion on a motorcycle as a form of taxi transportation service.
As I narrated this story – to a friend from Kenya - of how the debate rages on in Lagos about the pros and cons of "taking Okada", he was able to weigh in with the careful observation that this motorcycle service was aptly named, and indeed its application – by way of naming - should be embraced by Okada indigenes; pitching this concept to Okada indigenes might be summed up in the adage that the likelihood of success is "slim to none, and none just left town"!
Arguments for and against the concept of a taxi-bike go both ways: buyer beware, if you’re pregnant you have no business on a motorcycle, as the saying goes (period); Carry/buy your own helmet; ensure that the rider/pilot has injury insurance etc., etc. Insurance can be verified at a glance with a visible MOT Disc or should be produced on demand by the driver/pilot.
It is elitist for the influential, knowing that they live in a city of 18 million people that last did constructive city planning when there were no more than 2-3 million people, to mandate forms of transportation while their state run transportation system can cater to no more than a few hundred thousand. Already – gleaned from the Governor’s Facebook posts – we can see that the ban isn’t working, and monumental traffic jams and lost productivity are the result.
While I am a serial motorcyclist – having cut my teeth as a dispatch rider in London – I am biased towards bikes; on seeing them as a viable form of hired transportation? Not so much!
I remain much keener on seeing effective and safe water ferry services for the city of Lagos. These have been bogged down in a territorial dispute between the Federal Government that owns the landing jetties, and the Lagos Government that badly wants to use them for urban transportation; they remain unused!
Lagos State Government - many SAN’s! Please get to work; in the meantime, license ferry services and allow them to use the jetties, daring the Federal Government to prevent docking on otherwise unused jetties; your citizens are crying out for help.
On a final note: The concept of Motorcycles as a form of executive travel is well established: