The decision of the Ogun State Government to redesignate the popular Panseke-Mercy-Oluwo road as one-way traffic has generated a crisis in Abeokuta, the state capital, on Monday.
Our Source reports that scores of commercial motorcyclists, known as okada riders, went up in arms with operatives of the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement (TRACE) Corps, threatening that they would not allow the redesignation of the road as a one-way street.
Our correspondent reports that the TRACE corps, through its spokesperson, Babatunde Akinbiyi, had earlier said: “Mercy Road has now been redesignated as one-way traffic. Thus, motorists, tricyclists, and motorcyclists should take note.”
Also, a radio jingle sponsored by the traffic regulatory agency stated that the decision to make the road one-way was taken by the Ogun State Government to ensure free flow of traffic.
It was ordered that vehicles, motorcycles, or tricycles can only enter the student-populated environment through the road, adding that the road users should exit through Oluwo junction.
Early on Monday morning, TRACE officials had stormed the area in about three vehicles to enforce the new order.
However, they were met with serious resistance from angry okada riders, who insisted that the road must remain as it used to be.
As the TRACE officials made efforts to turn back vehicles and motorcyclists trying to link Panseke through the road, okada riders ensured they were allowed to go.
In their agitations, the people believed that the government took the decision in order to favor a popular restaurant in the area.
According to them, the road had been free from gridlocks for many years until the restaurant changed its location and expanded its business, “without any arrangement for a parking space.”
“We have been enjoying the free flow of traffic here for many years until Halaga built that restaurant. That is the only point of traffic gridlock on this road. The owner has no parking space and they did not make arrangements for that. Instead of addressing this, the government wants to put the burden on poor okada riders and traders on this road. How does the government want us to make money when it knows there is an okada park here?” Abbey Ajibola said.
Also, Ibrahim Umar, the head of Hausa Okada riders in the area threatened to fight any TRACE officials who tried to seize any bike because the rider did not obey the order.
Umar maintained that the government did not consider the amount of money it makes from them daily before making a law that could send riders out of business.
“How do you want me to drop a passenger at Onikoko, then I will now waste this expensive fuel to Iyana-Oluwo, Onikolobo down to Ibara flyover, where I will make a u-turn before returning to our park here in Panseke? That is unfair. They should not seize our bikes if they don’t want trouble. ‘Na kill I go kill’. How will anybody change this long road to one-way because of one person? Is she the one feeding us?” Umar queried.
A trader, who identified herself as Sherifat, accused the government of favoritism, saying the restaurant should be asked to control traffic instead of ‘killing’ commercial activities along Panseke-Mercy road.
Our correspondent reports that officials of the State Ministry of Transportation visited the area in the heat of the crisis.
The officials, however, left in their bus a few minutes later, saying they had come to see the situation of things and get the reactions of the people.