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LAGOS: Commercial drivers to begin protest strike

WITH the fuel scarcity challenge yet to be over, the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN), has threatened that its members will withdraw their services for seven days, starting from Monday, October 31, to protest against what the body calls “excessive extortion and harassment of drivers”.

The drivers’ body made this known in a statement signed and issued on Friday, October 21, by its National Leader, Akintade Abiodun; Lagos State Chairman, Opeyemi Suleiman; Secretary, Ajimatanarareje Feyisayo and Assistant Secretary,  Taofeek Hassan respectively.

However, the strike notice did not get the attention it deserved or perhaps many Lagosians missed it due to the panic created by the fuel scarcity, as it came the same weekend that queues for fuel resurfaced on the streets of Lagos.

According to the statement, JDWAN’s demand includes:

1. No to charging drivers three passengers money (sic) after loading in parks or garages, we are demanding it should be one passenger’s money per bus.

2. We demand that only Lagos State Government ticket should be the only ticket in Lagos, others e.g Lagos State parks & garages management, Lagos State caretaker committee are not acceptable to all drivers in Lagos State.

   3. We kick against paying motor park thugs at every bus stop. All illegal money paid after we leave the garages and parks should be abolished immediately.

   4. Harassment by law enforcement agencies and intimidation with guns, cutlass, and broken bottles by security agents must end immediately. They collaborate and hire thugs to attack and extort us every day without violating any law.

   5. We have lesser bus stops for commercial vehicles. Most bus stops in Lagos are strictly assigned officially to BRT buses only and we get arrested for dropping off passengers at existing bus stops which are known to commuters as official bus stops for decades. 

    “We demand that the Lagos State government should provide official bus stops in each community to avoid incessant arrests and stress for commuters who complain of having to trek several kilometres back to their bus stops.

    “Failure to adhere to these demands will only attract more protest and total boycott. JDWAN is resolute in pursuing justice by all legitimate and peaceful means available.”

   “Lagos drivers also pay for entertainment, security, unit chairman’s food and many other ridiculous levy (sic) with the threat of violence at any slight refusal by the drivers.

    “This is the exact case of the popular parlance on exploitation of labourers: ‘baboon dey work and monkey dey chop’. Lagos commercial drivers work like elephants and eat like ants, while the urchins under the aegis of motor park workers take a large chunk of our earnings. 

    “We can hardly fulfil our contractual obligations with our business partners, feed our family or afford maintenance or repair of our vehicles,” the statement also read.

    It need be noted that when the elephants fight, the grass bears the consequences. Thus, the commuters often feel directly the impact of any disruption in Lagos transportation system.

   Recall that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had in a report titled ‘Transport Fare Watch (MARCH 2022)’ said that Nigerians pay more for transportation fares.

    According to the NBS, the report presents the watch covering various categories of the transport sector. These include bus journey within the city per drop constant route; bus journey – intercity, state route, charge per person; airfare charge for specified routes single journey; journey by motorcycle, also known as okada, and waterway passenger transport.

    Following the intra-crisis within the state chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and recently the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), which resulted in the death of some commuters killed by stray bullets, the Lagos State government banned  activities of the unions in the state. 

  In the case of NURTW, the government outrightly proscribed the union in the state and replaced it with the Lagos Parks and Garage Management Authority, headed by the former state chairman of NURTW, Musiliu Akinsanya popularly known as  MC Oluomo, while in the case of RTEAN, it appointed a Caretaker Committee headed by Sulaiman Raji.  

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