For a metropolitan city like Lagos, the heavy reliance on alternative means of transportation like motorcycles (popularly known as okada) and tricycles (otherwise known as keke marwa) is worthy of note. These smaller vehicles not only make life a little more bearable for the city’s commuters who cannot afford cars, they also help in navigating those roads that are largely impassable thanks to factors like erosion and poor maintenance.
More specifically, motorcycles provide respite for the city’s working class population when they get caught up in that “customary” early morning and late evening gridlock which makes commuting to and from work significantly difficult for them on weekdays.
It is hardly surprising, then, that the mere thought of the disappearance of these vehicles would bear the semblance of a nightmare for the average Lagos resident.
On Monday, January 27, 2020, the Lagos State government announced their decision to ban the operation of motorcycles and tricycles across several local government areas in the state. Predictably, the news has not been well-received by the general populace, and in the days following, a debate on the rationality of certain government policies has raged on social media.
One fact that bears mentioning is that the ban, which takes effect from February 1, also extends to motorcycles owned by Gokada and Opay, two mobile transport service companies that made their way into Lagos only a few months ago. In simple terms, Gokada and Opay could be described as the motorcycle’s answers to Uber and Bolt, and in more than a few ways both companies have provided a little ease to the infamous transportation system that characterises the city of Lagos.
Following this sudden and far-from-favourable development, there are questions that beg for urgent answers: what happens to the respective agreements entered into with the Lagos State government by these companies? What happens to the $170 million invested into the workings of Opay in Lagos by the Opera group? More poignantly, what happens to the agreement that was struck between Opay and MC Oluomo in November 2019, which served as an indirect intervention when Opay’s cyclists were being harassed and extorted by members of the Nigerian Union Of Road Transport Workers (NURTW)?
Away from multinational companies and fancy helmets, what is the fate of logistics and delivery companies who heavily rely on dispatch riders to provide their services?
From heavy taxation to exorbitant levies, from unannounced demolitions to arbitrary policies, there is a general sentiment that the Lagos State government sets out to frustrate the efforts of entrepreneurs in operating legitimate business, and this ban, if fully implemented, would do little to assuage those feelings: there are enterprises that would literally crumble if the state government follows through with this.
There is also the not-so-small matter of how the ban would have an adverse effect on movement across the state. There are routes that can only be accessed by motorcycles and tricycles: should people who live in these areas be cut off from urban life?
There have been arguments that border on how the ban has been necessitated by the reckless nature of the cyclists as well as their brazen disregard for traffic regulations, but what are the alternatives? How do people get home from work when movement on Third Mainland Bridge or Eko Bridge grinds to a halt on a humid Friday evening? Should people who are already physically and mentally drained by the gruelling nature of corporate Lagos, have to go home on foot and further pile up their misery?
Those in favour of this proposed ban have also argued that some motorcyclists and tricycle riders have used these vehicles to aid their criminal activities. Such a line of thought is largely speculative at its best, ironic in its basic sense, and amounts to faulty logic at its worst.
This is because the operation of motorcycles and tricycles has provided employment to many youths across the state, and making a decision to stop them from riding is basically putting them out of work. No one needs elaborate explanations to figure out how unemployment tends to be directly proportional to an increase in crime rates.
Decisions of this nature have a way of painting the state’s policymakers as either detached from reality, or brazenly insensitive to the plight of its citizens. The state is in the middle of a town planning and infrastructural crisis, but banning motorcycles is like attempting to bandage a wounded limb already infected by gangrene.
There are ways to expand Lagos into a megacity, but limiting the transportation options of commuters and ultimately causing difficulty in intra-city movement is not one of them. Traffic rules should be enforced, and unruly riders should be apprehended, but there is more to lose if the baby is thrown out with the bath water.
If any executive decision ever needed a review, this would be one.
2Baba releases new album “Warriors”
The album is a key offering in the celebration of 2Baba’s 20 Years A King project.
Award-winning Afropop icon 2Baba has released his new album titled “Warriors” earlier today, February 28. This album is released as part of his 20 Years a King (#20YearAKing) celebration, commemorating the two decades he has spent in the Nigerian music industry.
This new album contains just 13 tracks including previously released singles like ‘Important’, ‘Oyi’ and the Peruzzi-assisted smash hit, ‘Amaka’. The LP also boasts big-name collaborations like Burna Boy, Wizkid, Olamide, Tiwa Savage and Peruzzi. It also features appearances from AJ Natives, Symeca and his daughter HI Idibia.
The production of the album is handled by a galaxy of PBanks, Spelz, Blaq Jeerzy, Bolji Beatz, Speroach Beatz, Richie, Ploops and his longtime collaborator, Jay Sleek.
Interestingly, this is the first 2Baba album that comes with a title track, which also serves as the opener of the full-length project.
On Tuesday, February 25, the celebrated singer held a well-attended listening party for the album at the Artisan Lounge bar, Lagos.
His seventh studio album, “Warriors” is the long-overdue follow up to “The Ascension” which was met with mixed reviews upon its release in 2014.
Formerly known as 2face Idibia, 2baba is one Africa’s most successful artists, winning local, continental and international awards like BET and MTV Europe Music Awards.
Exporting African sounds into Italy
Nigerian migrants are introducing Afrobeat to one of Italy’s most popular cities
Migrating from Africa to Europe is a particularly tricky business. It is usually very difficult to obtain visas, and consequently, many people opt for the long, tortuous route that runs through the Sahara Desert and extends into the Mediterranean Sea. It is a risky journey in many ways, as desperate migrants get robbed, swindled, enslaved or worse still, meet their end in the hot sands and high seas.
There is also the small matter of reputation when it comes to successful migrants. There are those who believe that men and women who manage to avoid death or slavery, and ultimately cross the borders into Italy and Spain, are either involved in drug peddling, prostitution or unsavoury menial jobs like washing up corpses.
There is a small group of people, however, who are slowly changing the narrative. These ones are not only showing that there is more that African migrants can do in Europe, but they are also exporting Nigerian music in all its exotic nature and rich flavour into one of Italy’s major cities.
Palermo, the capital city of the Sicilian province, is slowly becoming the Southern European capital for the world-conquering Afrobeats scene. Social media has given a platform to musicians who can reach a wide audience without institutional support. There are more than a few cities in Italy that are not exactly kind to migrants, but Palermo has gradually become a haven for a number of young Nigerian musicians to hone their craft and attempt to carve a niche for themselves on European shores.
The influx of these musicians has had a significant effect on the city, too. For instance, Ballaro, a small neighbourhood in Palermo, was once known as one of the most dangerous places in Italy, no thanks to the activities of the Mafia. But with the arrival of African and Asian immigrants, the neighbourhood is now revitalised and less prone to crime.
Artists like RayJeezy, Brenex Baba and Thug Money make a living from performing at night clubs across the city. They hope that their hustle ultimately pays off and that they gain worldwide recognition, but for now, they are contributing to the transformation of a city’s music and culture. Things are looking up for the African migrant population in Palermo, and it’s not hard to tell that there will be more where the music came from.
Netflix Announces First Original Nigerian Series
This comes just after the U.S-based streaming giant launched Netflix Naija.
Popular media-services provider Netflix has announced the production of its first original African series to be headlined by Nollywood director, Akin Omotoso.
This would be a six-part series that features an all-star Nollywood cast of Kate Henshaw, Ade Laoye, Richard Mofe Damijo, Joke Silva, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Kehinde Bankole and many others.
Directed by a team of Akin Omotosho, Daniel Oriahi and CJ Obasi, the series tells the story of a reincarnated goddess who seeks to avenge her sister’s death.
This announcement comes just after the U.S-based streaming platform unveiled Netflix Naija on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.
In a statement with Premium Times, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos revealed that “movies like King of Boys, Merry Men and The Bling Lagosians have shown how much our members love Nigerian movies.
“So, we’re incredibly excited to be investing in Made in Nigeria stories – bringing them to audiences all around the world.”
Over the past year, Netflix has featured a number of Nollywood movies on its streaming platform. Among such movies include the culturally and commercially successful King of Boys, October 1, The Figurine, Mokalik, and Merry Men.