There was pandemonium on Tuesday at the Second Rainbow area of Festac town, Lagos after motorcycle riders clashed with personnel of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit.
Movement of vehicles was grounded on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, as the motorcyclists set bonfires on the road.
The gridlock, which the situation resulted to, extended to the Mile 2 area.
Reports had it that two vehicles belonging to the task force were reportedly vandalised with one of the officers injured.
Military personnel who were drafted in the area prevented the matter from escalating.
The task force officers reportedly stormed the area around 12pm to enforce the state traffic laws and impound motorcycles.
The riders were said to have mobilised and attacked the officers after many motorcycles were seized.
“The riders confronted the task force officials when they tried to impound their motorcycles. It degenerated to a serious fight,” a witness said.
A motorcyclist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, lamented that the task force officers were taking away their means of survival.
“This is the only thing we survive on. Without our motorcycles, we will die. If the government is not insensitive, why will they impound motorcycles after the lockdown and the current economic hardship in the country?
“We are humans and we have families. The government cannot ban motorcycles without providing an alternative for us. Like many motorcyclists, I have a family and children that I take care of and the bitter part of this thing is that when they seize your motorcycle, they will take it to Alausa (state secretariat) and sell it off if after a few days you don’t pay the amount you’re charged.”
A passenger, Lukmon Jerry, said the operators should be regulated rather than banning them.
He said, “The roads are bad for vehicles, which is the reason some of us board motorcycles. The government should do something about the roads in this area if they don’t want motorcycles to operate again. Although some motorcyclists have no regards for traffic rules, the government should regulate operators, not impound their motorcycles.”
Head of the Public Affairs Unit of the task force, Adebayo Taofiq, stated on Tuesday, that the motorcyclists attacked officers on enforcement duties.
Taofiq said, “Operatives of the agency, based on a series of complaints from the public about activities of these okada riders using their bikes to rob people of their valuables and plying restricted routes, went out to the area for enforcement and after impounding about 74 okadas caught plying one way and those operating on the highway, the okada riders mobilised themselves and attacked officers of the agency.
“They damaged beyond repair two of our vehicles. A paramilitary officer attached to the agency, Ganiyu Mustapha, was wounded with broken bottles and a cutlass because he mistakenly ran into the mob.”
The Unit Head also observed that since the #EndSARS protest, motorists and okada riders had been operating with impunity, thus, causing traffic across the state.