THE recent violent clash among warring factions of a road transport union in central Lagos strikes a worrisome chord. Gangsterism, racketeering, thuggery and brigandage have for long plagued the public transportation sector in Lagos State, fuelled by the impunity of transport unions and official negligence. It is time to stop the lawlessness. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the new Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi, owe Lagosians and the country a duty to uproot these deviants from the roads.
The incident had a familiar ring. Armed with guns, machetes and cudgels, rival factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers in the Idumota engaged in a street battle in broad daylight in the busy business district and market area. At least two persons died in the fracas. Typically, the war reportedly erupted over disagreements on the collection and sharing of levies extorted from commercial bus drivers. One person was reportedly shot dead, another bled to death from machete cuts. Traders in neighbouring markets had to hurriedly close their shops and scamper to safety. So did bank branches and other businesses. This is unacceptable in a civilised society.
For many years, members of the unions, popularly called agberos, have become a malignant menace. Formerly operating at main garages and bus termini, they are now present at almost every bus stop in the state, forcibly collecting tolls from bus drivers. They engage in incessant bloody clashes among themselves and/or with bus drivers and vandalise commercial buses whose drivers refuse to part with the illegal levies. They exhibit brazen disregard for public peace by causing commotion and gridlock on the roads. They wield excessive and illegal powers at the parks and bus stops. They use illicit drugs, especially marijuana, openly, fouling the air with its smoke. To the dismay of residents and business operators, they mostly go unchallenged by law enforcement agents. Their tolls have made transport fares in Lagos unbearably high.
Notably, many stakeholders allege active collusion by security agencies, the political elite and some state government functionaries. Politicians are also known to hire them as enforcers. Sanwo-Olu and Alabi need to demonstrate that the government and the police have no hand in the impunity of the unions. There are enough laws in the statute books that outlaw the activities of these touts. There are laws against touting, extortion, affray, possession of weapons and drug use. They should enforce them.
Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial, industrial Read More
Source:: Nigerian Chatter(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)