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Lagos Commercial Bus Drivers Cry Out Again, Say LASTMA Has Impounded 50 Buses In A Day

Drivers, under the aegis of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN), have again cried out, over continuous extortions and for the seizure of buses belonging to its members by officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).

According to the drivers’ group, the Lagos state government is yet to fulfil its promises to stop extortion and violent attack on commercial drivers.

Naija News had reported on Monday, November 7 that the JDWAN after a week-long strike to boycott Lagos roads in the bid to air its grievances called off its industrial action following their meeting with the Chairman of Lagos State Parks and Garages Management, Musiliu Akinsanya (aka MC Oluomo).

However, the group has cried out that its demands are yet to meet, adding that the enforcement of the directive given to LASTMA to impound unpainted vehicles is the newest struggle its members are facing.

JDWAN, in a statement signed by its National Leader, Abiodun Akintade, yesterday said attacks on its members and extorsions are yet to seize.

Akintade bemoaned that a member’s windscreen was broken yesterday morning because of alleged N500 extortion from the state caretaker committee members on his way to mile 2.

“While we await the Lagos State Government to fulfil its promises to stop extortion and violent attack on commercial drivers after the recent drivers strike, Yesterday (Tuesday), November 8, 2022, one of our members, a Mazda bus driver named Samson Adewunmi was attacked at Volks bus stop by Lagos State caretaker committee members formerly known as the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, on his way to mile 2, around 7 am in the morning over N500 illegal extortion.

“His windscreen was broken, he was beaten and macheted, which left two deep gashes on his head, currently in a coma at the hospital and we hope he survives it,” JDWAN stated, sharing a gory picture of Adewunmi with several injuries on the head.

The JDWAN leader also expressed sadness at an alleged seizure of 50 buses belonging to its members yesterday by LASTMA officials over what he described as the state’s “new” yellow bus policy.

Akintade noted that “This morning, Wednesday, November 9, 2022, LASTMA seized over 50 of our buses because of the new yellow bus policy which came to public notice three days ago.

“We wonder if this is part of the new transport reform or what Lagos commercial drivers demanded during the seven-day strike. Where will drivers suddenly get money to paint their buses amidst the current extortion and violent attacks in Lagos? Could it be that the drivers’ demands must have irked the state government so much that their first line of action is remembering an expensive law that would further increase the sufferings of drivers and commuters in Lagos?

“Without the extortion and violence, painting a bus in three days would have been feasible for drivers.

“A sensitive government would have given three months’ notice before implementing such law that would cost drivers almost 200 thousand naira to comply with,” it added, imploring the Lagos state government to quickly accede to the demands of drivers.

“Arrest and publicly prosecute the violent ‘agberos’ (hoodlums) that attack us daily. Stop the extortion at every bus stop and give the poor drivers some time, at least, three months’ notice to paint their buses,” the statement concluded.”

Meanwhile, Naija News on Tuesday reported that the Lagos state government has warned operators to paint their commercial vehicles red or yellow with black stripes or face the law.

This is against the backdrop of a directive given to LASTMA by the state government to begin arresting and impounding unpainted commercial vehicles across the state.

Naija News understands that the LASTMA Public Relations Officer, Taofiq Adebayo, told Punch that the directive to paint commercial vehicles in designated colours of the state is not a new policy.

The LASTMA spokesperson said an earlier warning had gone out last weekend, informing operators to ensure appropriate painting with the right colours, as well as register vehicles, hence any defaulter will be prosecuted.

Adebayo submitted that “The General Manager of LASTMA, Mr Bolaji Oreagba gave the warning over the weekend in Oshodi, informing that the Agency will commence an enforcement exercise on all unpainted commercial vehicles from Monday, November 7, 2022, across the state,” a statement of the agency sighted by our correspondent stated.

“It was not a new law or policy. It was an existing law inside the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law, 2018. Not only unpainted but also those unregistered commercial buses. The government has a responsibility to protect the lives and property of the citizens.

“All those (whose vehicles were) impounded would be charged to court accordingly. We hereby warn those that are still using unpainted or unregistered (vehicles) for commercial (purposes) across Lagos to rethink and have them painted in yellow with black stripes in accordance with the law.

“In case of any suspected criminal incidence, these unpainted and unregistered are difficult to track or trace by law enforcement officers.

“As a responsible and responsive government, security of lives and property is very paramount.”

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