By ALEX OLISE
Trouble is looming in Lagos following last week’s decision by the state government to take over the collection of revenue of all motor parks believed to be one of its biggest revenue sources.
The plan had been on the horizon for many years without success but it appears that the government capitalised on the crisis rocking the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), headed by a stalwart close to virtually all the past governors of the state, Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya (aka) MC Oluomo.
The fight started between a faction loyal to him and that of another stalwart heading Lagos Island, Kunle Poly, a die-hard unionist.
After their clash, which claimed many lives, the state government waded into the matter and supported Oluomo. Kunle was arrested and paraded by the commander, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Olayinka Egbeyemi, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), popularly know as the “White Lion.” Egbeyemi, a dreaded police officer, was one time chairman of Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental Offences.
As that case was yet to settle, another problem occurred between Oluomo and the leader of Trycycle riders, simply known as Istijaba. That crisis claimed the lives of no fewer than 10 persons across the state. Again, Istijaba was arrested and detained by RRS, The Trumpet gathered.
The state government swiftly capitalised on all these troubles and suddenly outlawed the operations of the NURTW with a view to get other people to run its activities. As all these scenarios were playing out, the state government knowing what may result if these people were sent out of the road without any alternative means of survival, used wisdom and employed the same leaders to increase the ticket given to each class of commercial buses plying all the major roads in the state. They, then printed a new ticket with Lagos State name on it. Called consolidated ticket, tagged N800, it is to be issued to all commercial buses on a daily basis but this is unacceptable to the drivers, resulting in tension all over the state.
The government also instructed them not to use their former union uniform again since they had been banned.
Now the pocket of crisis being witnessed across the state is as result of the drivers’ refusal to accept the new fees levied on them. They believe that if the state government has actually banned the union, why is it that the same old faces are now forcing them to pay higher levy in uniform.
They claim that if it is true that government had taken over, then there would be a kind of reprieve for all commercial bus drivers in the state, who over the years have suffered dehumanisation from the NURTW members, otherwise known as “Agberos”.
As at the last count, no fewer than three person were feared dead on Tuesday, with scores of people injured, after disagreement ensued with drivers, who refused to pay higher fees.