Commercial bus drivers under the aegis of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria, on Monday, embarked on a seven-day strike in Lagos State over alleged extortion by members of the Lagos State Parks and Garages Management Committee.
The drivers alleged extortion by Musiliu ‘MC Oluomo’ Akinsanya at Lagos motor parks, accusing Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the police command in the state of aiding and abetting violence.
APC apologist MC Oluomo is the chairman of the Lagos Parks Management Committee, overseeing the affairs of all motor parks in the state.
In a statement before the strike, the drivers said, “Drivers and commuters have had a brimful of extortion and harassment from the motor park management and caretaker committee thugs popularly known as ‘Agbero.’
“It is also visible to the blind in Lagos that the cost of goods and services is a consequence of agbero’s extortion, no goods can be delivered, and 95 per cent of working-class residents can be transported without the service of commercial drivers,” said the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria, in a statement issued to signal a seven-day strike which commenced on Monday morning.
Several commuters were left stranded at bus stops.
The unfettered and violent extortion by the Lagos government agents has not only increased transportation fare beyond the affordability of workers but also made every good and service out of reach of the poor Lagosians,” said JDWAN.
The drivers decried Mr Sanwo-Olu’s administration and the park management committee’s failure to respond to their concerns.
“We are also giving the Lagos state government and the thuggish motor park extortion agency a seven-day ultimatum to respond to our demands,” said the association.
The group added, “The Lagos state government has since made no concrete response to JDWAN demands. Rather, their representatives only asked for another letter to be submitted on Monday, which is regarded as a joke on our part, having released a press statement with concise demands.
The association stated that they also “honoured the demand to deliver a physical copy of the letters to the Lagos government, the SSS, the police commissioner of police and the transport commissioner, accusing MC Oluomo of threatening their members’ lives.
There is a court restraint at the Lagos federal high court ordering Mr Sanwo-Olu’s government to stop “all transport agencies from ticketing, bus stop levies, motor park levies, dues and any form of extortion at motor parks,” added the JDWAN.
“it is sad that the representatives of Governor Babajide Sanwo Olu are mocking Lagos drivers’ predicament and are disinterested in stopping the major factor causing (the) high cost of living in Lagos by asking for another letter and demanding that we call off the boycott without addressing our five demands,” added the JDWAN’s statement.
They said they were kicking against “paying motor park thugs at every bus stop” and demanded that “all illegal money at garages and parks must stop.”
“Harassment of law enforcement agencies and intimidation with guns, cutlass, broken bottles by LASTMA, task force and RRS must end immediately,” JDWAN demanded.
“Lagos State government should build and assign more bus stops for commercial use to avoid arrest by LASTMA for dropping off passengers at existing bus stops which are known to commuters as official bus stops.”
Meanwhile, the name of the Chairman of Lagos State Parks and Garages Management Committee, Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo, has been trending on Twitter in relation to the drivers’ strike.
A tweep, Ejike said, “The situation at Lagos bus stops this morning. No buses and no MC Oluomo or ‘agberos’ to provide transportation. Na make una for see how utterly useless ‘agberos’ are, yet somehow Lagos has made them demigods.”
Another user, Waliu, tweeted, “Lagos State enabled the shenanigans. Commercial bus drivers pay the dues through their nose. Ordinary Lagosians bear the brunt of non-state actors’ recklessness. I’m glad ordinary drivers are organising!”
“Lagos commercial bus drivers begin strike today. It’s gonna be a tough period for us in Lagos. It’s so crazy how much control non-state actors have on the Nigerian economy. ‘Agberos’ are bringing the State to a halt and the State Government is shamelessly helpless about this,” Opeyemi tweeted.
Weyimi said, “Do you know what’s worse? The same people complaining about the scarcity of fuel and lack of buses are the same people who don’t see anything wrong in thugs/agberos/MC Oluomo extorting money. Truly some people are addicted to suffering.”