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Crime & Punishment of Tuesday, 9 March 2021


Lagos commercial transporters suspend operation over ticket sale

Lagos commercial drivers Lagos commercial drivers

Hundreds of commuters were stranded on Monday as commercial drivers suspended operation in protest against alleged extortion by union officials on the Badagry Expressway in Lagos State.

The protesters, who displayed placards with different inscriptions, lamented that the National Union of Road Transport Workers and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria had made commercial transportation burdensome, adding that drivers and conductors usually face inhumane treatment from union officials under the guise of collecting money for daily tickets.

PUNCH Metro gathered that trouble started between the commercial drivers and RTEAN last Wednesday when its members compelled the drivers operating between Badagry and Mile 2 to pay N800 for a new ticket.

A transporter, Isaac Olalekan, said the commercial drivers suspended operation last Thursday because of the new ticket, adding that RTEAN compelled the drivers to pay N800 for the ticket at every bus stop.

He stated, “We started protesting around 7:15 am from Agbara to Iyana Ira bus stop that we don’t want the ticket, others protested in other areas simply because union members are many on the road and are disturbing us from Badagry to Mile 2. They suddenly brought the ticket and started compelling us to pay N800. If RTEAN members collect money from transporters today, the NURTW members will work tomorrow.

“But RTEAN claimed that the new ticket was obtained from the Lagos State Government. How will they be compelling us to pay N800 for a ticket at every junction? We asked why we were being asked to pay for the same ticket multiple times and they said it was from the government, but when we asked our colleagues at Iyana Ipaja, they said there was no such ticket there.

“We suspended operation on Thursday; no commercial vehicle is operating on the Badagry Expressway and most commuters convey themselves to their destinations through the use of personal vehicles or motorcycles. A lot of commuters are stranded.”

Another commercial driver, Ahmed Kolawole, said transport business in the area was no longer profitable, adding that union members had been extorting them with the ticket sales.

A commuter, Olaoluwa Hakeem, said, “All the motorcycles plying the route are demanding N1,500 from here to Mile 2. It is between N150 and N200 if commercial buses are available. I have been here for over three hours and I am thinking of returning home.”

The Zonal Chairman, RTEAN, Igboelerin, Abdulateef Ajibola, explained, “This ticket is not a union ticket; it is a state government ticket from the Ministry of Transportation. We used to pay for the local government ticket, but the state government invited us to a meeting and informed us that the local government ticket has been suspended and that the state would be issuing the ticket to the union.

“It is the government that has the power and not the transport unions, so we complied with the government’s directive. But we told them that N800 for the ticket was much; even the union ticket is N200 per day, but the government never listened to us and we have to comply since the government is the one issuing us permits for our parks.”

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Toyin Fayinka, said, “The Lagos State Government is aware of the N800 ticket. Before we rolled out the ticket, wider consultation was done and we held more than 10 meetings with the heads of the NURTW and RTEAN, and equally met with the local government chairmen before we agreed.

“Out of this N800, the local government will have its share, the state government will have its share, the driver will have his share, the park and its environment will also have its share. If you are transporter and you are to drive your vehicle from Ikorodu and a Lagos State Government ticket is issued to you for N800, if you take off from Ikorodu and pick passengers at Ketu, and you also pick passengers on Lagos Island, you do same when you get to Epe, nobody will give you another ticket. It is N800 per vehicle per day.”

When asked the purpose the N800 ticket serves, Fayinka said, “Before now, a driver will just stop at a park and they will collect money from him without being issued any receipt or tax clearance. But we have agreed with the unions that the names, telephone numbers and pictures of the drivers paying this N800 must be documented.

“As agreed, at the end of the year, the Lagos Internal Revenue Service will now give the drivers certificate of tax clearance as they will have deducted an amount on a daily basis from the N800 the drivers are paying.”