By Chukwuemeke Iwelunmo
There are fears that the presence of motorbike operators popularly known as Okada operators is gradually posing a lot of threat to the safety and security of both airport users and the airport.
In recent time, the number of Okada operators on the local to international Airport has gradually increased without regards to other road users, DailyTimes gathered.
Apart from operating illegally on the route, these Okada operators drive against traffic popularly known as one way with their passengers.
With the restriction of bikes in some areas of Lagos State, the airport axis as a result of safety and security, should be visited with a total ban on the activities of these operators.
In most part of the world, airports are well secured, safe, clean and the activities of touts and others who have no business being there restricted.
This is because international airports are the first places to behold by visitors thus giving them a fair, first impression about a country.
Unfortunately commercial motorcyclists operating within the MMIA Lagos do so with scant regard or respect for the various security operatives on duty there.
These operators if not checked will in the near future, take over the whole airport environs with their drop and pick passengers.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) boldly erected billboards in strategic places along the adjoining roads at the airport with inscriptions ‘motorcycle operators, not allowed.
Fine N50,000′. But the Authority has never arrested nor prosecuted any of these Okada operators.
Some stakeholders who spoke to our correspondent blamed FAAN for not doing anything concerning the menace of Okada operators.
They called on FAAN to wake up to its responsibility in this regard and become proactive on this issue.
There are allegations that almost all the security personnel in the environs are the ones operating Okada in the area.
It was also learnt that these operators take advantage of the traffic between Ikeja under bridge to the international Airport to ignore the no bike presence at the airport.
One of the Okada operators who said he has been plying the route for over 5 years, told our correspondent that they know how to settle the law enforcement agents at the airport.
He said: “I have been operating at this airport for 5 years now”. “We know one another, I am not new in this area”.
But for the immediate past general secretary of National Union of Air Transport Employees, Comrade Olayinka Abioye, the issue of continued operations of Okada within the airport in Lagos is embarrassing, unwholesome and condemnable.
He accused the management of FAAN of gaining something from Okada operators at the airport.
He said: “It is now believed that FAAN is gaining something from their operations otherwise, after a security declaration that Okada is banned, after spending money on producing Signboards around and along the major airport roads, nobody cared thereafter.
In fact, if you draw attention to it, the Okada riders will laugh and ride away”.
Comrade Abioye noted that some of these motorbikes are owed by military personnel and their relatives.
“Some of these motorbikes are either owned or operated by both military personnel or their fronts.
Our security agents, particularly the police also collects money from them on regular basis hence their failure or lukewarm attitude towards stamping out Okada operations”.
He urged FAAN to call for security meeting where decision will be made to enforce the no Okada on the airport road completely adding that anyone caught aiding and abating these operators should be arrested and prosecuted along with the Okada riders”.
“Any security personnel caught in aiding and abetting their movements will be arrested and prosecuted along with the Okada riders while the said Okada will be forfeited to FAAN/FG”.
But contacted, the acting general manager, corporate communications, FAAN, Mrs. Faithful A. Hope-Ivbaze, said she will confirm and get back to our correspondent but as at the time of filling in the report there was no response from her.