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Public Transport: Lagos holds enlarged stakeholders’ meeting as bus drivers’ strike continues

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State

*The Lagos State Government has assured it is considering the demands of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN), with a view to finding permanent solutions to the issues raised by the Association

*We remain undaunted and resolute till all our demands are met, say bus drivers

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

In a move to resolve the issues raised the the commercial bus drivers have raised, the Lagos State Government (LASG) has said it summoned aggrieved drivers under the aegis of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN), members of the National Union of Road and Transport Workers (NURTW), and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) to a meeting skated for Wednesday, November 2, 2022.

ConsumerConnect had reported the JDWAN members, who commenced a seven-day strike Monday, October 31, had demanded the state government’s intervention in resolving burning issues bordering on alleged extortion and harassment.

The concerned bus drivers Monday stated that they began the strike over purported “harassment and extortion by motor parks and garages management”.

However, Hon. Sola Giwa, Special Adviser to  Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Transportation, in a statement issued signed Monday said the authorities are considering the demands of the aggrieved bus drivers towards finding permanent solutions to the issues the drivers’  Association has raised.

Giwa stated: “The Lagos State Government is looking into the demands of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN), with a view to finding permanent solutions to the issues raised by the Association.

“The move becomes necessary following the planned seven-day job boycott by the drivers over alleged ‘harassment and extortion by motor parks and garages management’.”

The governor’s aide also noted: “Sequel to the announcement by JDWAN to embark on a seven-day strike starting from 31st October, 2022, the Ministry of Transportation invited its leadership to a meeting on Friday, 28th October, 2022, despite its non-affiliation to any of the transport unions known by the State Government, i.e., NURTW and RTEAN.

“Most of the union members at the meeting were from the Badagry axis and it was resolved that the meeting be adjourned till Wednesday, 2nd November, 2022, to have a larger house (the Unions inclusive) and resolve the matter amicably.”

He further said: “The outcome of the 2nd November, 2022, meeting will be made known to the public.

“The State Government urges drivers to continue their daily routine without fear of molestation and intimidation as security agencies have been directed to maintain law and order.

“Those who are taking advantage of the situation to raise fares are warned to desist from doing so or face the consequences of their illegal actions.”

Strike continues until outstanding issues are resolved, says JDWAN

Meanwhile, as their industrial action continues, the striking commercial bus drivers in Lagos State have alleged that ‘Agberos’ (motor park touts) abducted their colleagues, and attacked their homes.

The Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria Monday noted that its members faced physical assaults, abductions, and vandalisation of property by some motor park touts in Lagos, in the course of the ongoing strike.

The drivers said the inhumane treatment meted to them purportedly occurred in Badagry, Ojodu Berger, Iyana-Era and Ijanikin areas of Lagos State.

Akintade Abiodun, JDWAN National Leader, narrating the ordeal in a statement,  vowed the strike would continue till November 6, to press home their demands from the LASG.

Akintade stated that the JDWAN members, who are over 5,000 in number, are ready to defy all odds in the state.

The statement said: “Kudos to all commercial drivers in Lagos State for the massive compliance to the seven-day boycott by the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria.

“We also want to thank the commuters and residents of Lagos for the support thus far.

“We have all come to the full understanding of the impact of the forceful, illegal, ludicrous, unjust ticketing, levies and charges by the Parks and Garages Management Committee and caretaker committee.”

He stated: “We can no longer continue to be subservient to people who have made life unbearable for us all and directly affects the cost of transportation, goods and services in Lagos.

“We have explicitly made our points clear in our demands and we are expecting the Lagos State government to accede to our demands by stopping exploitation of our labour and violent violation of our rights and restraining court order against the motor park management and caretaker committee thugs in Lagos.

“Today, October 31 (Monday) being the first day of our seven days industrial action, we have experienced physical attacks, vandalisation of our vehicles and homes and criminal abduction of our member.

“A JDWAN member, Ashimiyu Idowu, was abducted in Iworo area of Badagry as motor park and caretaker thugs led by a popular Agbero (names withheld), on Agbara-Seme route.

“They came in a vehicle owned by a traditional ruler.”

According to him, “the Agberos came in over 100 bikes with three suspected thugs riding on each wielding machetes and guns, as they shot sporadically to scare people away and Ashimiyu was abducted in the process.

“After the abduction, they drove towards Seme and many vehicles were vandalised in the process.”

Akintade further noted: “In Ojodu Berger area of Lagos State, drivers were beaten by multitude of motor park thugs and caretaker committee thugs over the strike action, while they marched chanting ‘where are the other drivers?’

“Similar occurrences were experienced at Iyana-Era area of Badagry.

“At Roundabout Bus Stop, Ijanikin, precisely in front Lagos State University of Education, two drivers of mini buses (Korope) observing the strike action were flogged and brutally attacked by the motor park management thugs and their buses were driven away because they refused to work.”

He also said: “The coalition of Lagos commercial drivers under the umbrella of Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria wants to say categorically to the state government and its violent extortion agents that we are not afraid of any threat.

“No matter how long they violate the restraining order against the government by Honorable Justice Peter Odo Lifu, we remain undaunted and resolute till all our demands are met.

“The state government should arrest the perpetrators and charge them to court for assault and all vandalised vehicles be repaired and returned to their owners.”

“We once again salute the unity and steadfastness of our members as we call on all other professionals, honest labourers, workers and unions to join us tomorrow, November 1, so as to avoid being stranded or attacked by these unbridled Lagos State illegal tax collectors.”

In a related development, Ashimiyu Idowu, a commercial bus driver earlier abducted in front of his house at Iworo, Badagry, has regained his freedom, Vanguard report said.

Ashimiyu, who lost his wife about a month ago, was said to be undergoing medical treatment as a result of fatigue, and is yet to resume work since then.

It was learned that he was resting in front of his house when his assailants stormed the area, beat him up and vandalised his vehicle.

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