By Aishat Momoh. O.
Commuters in Lagos were on Monday stranded as commercial bus drivers under the aegis of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN) embark on a 7-day warning strike and boycott of services across the state.
The strike according to report is as a result of the harassment, intimidation, multiple and excessive extortions from the National Union of Road Transport Workers popularly known as Agbero.
In an earlier report, JDWAN had threatened to embark on seven days of protest and boycott of services across the state over multiple and excessive extortions by the management of parks and garages in the state.
The association, in a statement by its national leader, Akintade S. Abiodun; chairman, Opeyemi Sulaiman; general secretary, Ajimatanarareje A. Feyisayo and assistant secretary, Taofik Hassan, scheduled Monday, October 31, for the commencement of the protest, as it instructed its members to adhere to the instruction but the protest was cancelled.
The statement reads in part, “This is to notify members of the public and the Lagos State government over multiple and excessive extortions by the motor parks and garages management.
against alleged harassment and extortion by personnel of the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit, aka task force.
“The cost of transportation affects the cost of goods and services and consequently the cost of living, which has spiraled astronomically in Lagos State as a result of the effect of motor parks’ excessive and illegal ticketing and tolling at almost every bus stop.
“We have been sentenced to extortion and violent harassment of the state transport agencies – Lagos State motor parks and garages management and Lagos State caretaker committee.
“On a daily basis, we lose half of our income to the motor park boys. We pay exorbitant charges in the garages and at every bus stop where we drop off passengers, whether we pick up passengers or not, we pay morning, afternoon, and night. Some routes have 25 bus stops which also serve as illegal tax collection avenues.
“We crave the indulgence of the public to go through the meticulous breakdown of this unprecedented level of extortion we go through below:
“From Badagry to Mile 2, we pay N3,500 & N5,000 naira apart from 25 illegal tolling/ticketing by motor park hoodlums who collect two to three hundred naira per bus. From Seme park, they collect N7,100 in the morning before loading our buses yet we are still subject to illegal collection on the highway.
“On Federal Mass & Coaster, we pay over N12,000 on each trip from Oko Afo to CMS or to Oyingbo, which includes loading charges and illegal payments at several bus stops till we get to our destination.
“From Ogijo to Ikorodu, we pay over N5,500 per day. Garage Ticket N850, Chairman ticket N1,700, King’s levy N200, Ita Oluwo N500, Odo Gunyon N1,200, Ile Epo Oba N200. We also pay N900 for passing by whether you pick up a passenger or not.
(At Ikorodu Roundabout we pay N1,000 in the morning and afternoon, and we pay N500 in the evening, which makes it N2,500. At Benson Bus Stop we pay N900 for a whole day, loading at N300 each for morning, afternoon and evening.
“At Agric Bus Stop we pay N200 to 8 motor park thugs. It is called welcome to Agric tax. When we stop to load for passengers at Agric bus stop we pay an extra N300 which isn’t part of the N1,600 welcome to Agric tax. When we get to Aunty Kenny bus stop we pay N200 before buying Lagos State ticket for N500.
”At Ogolonto bus stop we pay N100. At Mile 12 bus stop we pay N500 for plying the expressway and N1,000 for plying the service lane (for buses en route Yaba oyingbo). Mile 12 to Ojuelegba buses pay N1,500 while red coaster buses pay N2,000.
“Red buses from Ikorodu to Oshodi pay N5,000 to motor park boys in the morning and afternoon. At Ketu bus stop we pay between N600 to N1,000 depending on the size of the bus for just dropping off passengers or picking up any single one. For buses plying Yaba to Ikeja, we pay N200 at Jibowu bus stop, Total bus stop N100, Fadeyi N100, Onipanu N200, Elediye N200, Palmgrove N200, Anthony N100, Ikeja N200 – total N1,300.
“On our way back to Yaba, Palmgrove & Onipanu is N500, Fadeyi & Total N500, Yaba N200 with LASG N800 ticket making it a total of N3,300 in the morning alone. We pay N2,000 each in the afternoon and evening, which makes a total of N7,300 daily. Korope plying lyana Iba-Okoko to Agbara are paying N5,000 per day to motor park boys without the extra LASTMA & Police Department & Lagos Task Force daily extortion.
“When we resist the extortion, we get arrested and pay N10,000 for bail to the police while the motor park boys go scot free and we also have to bail our buses separately.
“Lagos drivers also pay for entertainment, security, unit chairman’s food and many other ridiculous levies with 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 fulfill our contractual obligations with our business partners, feed our family, or afford maintenance or repair of our vehicles.