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Commuters stranded as Lagos commercial drivers protest extortion
stranded commut

Hundreds of commuters on Monday got stranded following a one-week strike action embarked upon by commercial drivers operating under the aegis of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association in Lagos State.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the group embarked on the strike in protest against the numerous fees imposed on its members by the Lagos State Parks and Garages Committee under the leadership of Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo.

Our correspondents, who monitored the effect of the strike in different parts of the state, observed that commuters were stranded at various bus stops and motor parks due to the low turnout of commercial drivers to convey them to their destinations.

Available commercial drivers, who operated despite the strike, were also seen taking advantage of the situation to increase the transportation fares, a situation which frustrated many commuters.

While some commuters aborted their plans over the situation, others resorted to trekking.

A few commuters were seen boarding the available buses despite the increased fares.

A stranded commuter in the Igando area of the state, Angus Nwanaeka, said he cancelled his appointment due to the crowd struggling to board the few available vehicles.

He said, “I woke very early today because I had an appointment at Victoria Island but the crowd at the Igando Bus Stop was massive and I had no opportunity to board a bus. I had to reschedule my appointment.”

A security officer, Oluwafemi Joshua, while lamenting the unavailability of vehicles at Iyana Ipaja, said he had to trek from the bus stop to his destination in the Egbeda area of the state.

“The transportation fare is too high; from Iyana-Ipaja to Iyana-Oba is N700. I had to trek all the way to Egbeda,” Joshua said.

Another stranded commuter, Elizabeth Okoro, said she was not aware that commercial buses were going on strike.

“I am not against the drivers fighting for their rights because the taxes they pay daily is too much, but they should also consider us. We have to be at our workplaces on time and we rely so much on them,” she added.

However, to ensure total compliance with the strike action, some members of the JDWAN embarked on surveillance in different parts of the state to clamp down on recalcitrant drivers.

A businessman, Gabriel Abagun, while waiting for a bus to convey him to his destinations in the state, said vehicles of some commercial drivers were impounded for operating in contravention to the strike in the Yaba area of the state.

However, a bus driver around the Mile 12 area of the state, who identified himself simply as Alhaji Sola for security reasons, said the strike was unnecessary, adding that he did not join the protest because he needed to feed his families.

Sola said, “This country does not consider their citizens at all. From Mile 12 to Ketu Bus Stop, I pay money to Agberos. The people organising this strike do not have problems like common men.

 “If I do not work, who will feed my family? I do not care about any strike, but I support them.”

PUNCH Metro learnt that a meeting on Sunday, involving the National Leader of the JDWAN, Akintade Abiodun; the group’s Legal Adviser, Ayo Ademiluyi; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Abdulhafiz Toriola; and the Liaison Officer, Parks Management Committee, Hakeem Odumosu, to forestall the strike, ended in a deadlock.

Ademiluyi, had in a statement, said JDWAN drivers were subjected to indiscriminate extortion and violent harassment by the management of parks and garages in the state.

Reacting to the protest, the state Commissioner for Transportation, Frederic Oladeinde, said the state government was working towards a peaceful resolution of the matter.

He said, “The Lagos state government is doing all it can do to relieve the sufferings of its people. We are a law-abiding state and we will not force anyone but try to plead with them to come to a peaceful resolution. We thank God there was no violence anywhere. By tomorrow, we should have resolved everything.”

In his reaction, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, said, “We have had two meetings with them and we are expecting them to come back on Wednesday.

“We will see what it is all about by Wednesday. They are complaining about extortion but the state government is ready to help them resolve the matter.”