Lagos State commercial bus drivers under the aegis of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN) have threatened a seven-day mass protest over multiple extortions by the Parks and Garages Management of the Lagos State government.
The drivers lamented that despite their dedication to their work, they had been subjected to indiscriminate extortion, violent harassment and intimidation by the Parks and Garages management.
The association in a statement by its National Leader, Akintade S. Abiodun; Chairman, Opeyemi Sulaiman; General secretary, Ajimatanarareje A. Feyisayo and Assistant Secretary, Taofik Hassan, said the planned mass action will begin on Monday, October 31, 2022 and instructed its members to adhere to the instruction.
The statement read, “This is to notify members of the public and the Lagos State government our intentions to embark on a seven day strike over multiple and excessive extortions by the motor parks and garages management.
“The cost of transportation affects cost of goods and services and consequently the cost of living, which has spiraled astronomically in Lagos State as a result of the effect of Motor parks excessive and illegal ticketing and tolling at almost every bus stop.
They lamented that they have been sentenced to the extortion and violent harassment by the state transport agencies – Lagos State Motor Parks and Garages Management and Lagos State Caretaker Committee.
The union said that on a daily basis, its members lose half of their income to the motor park boys, lamenting that they pay exorbitant charges in the garages and at every bus stop where its members drop off passengers, whether they pick up passengers or not.
“We pay morning, afternoon and night. Some routes have 25 bus stops which also serve as illegal tax collection avenues,” asking the public the indulgence to go through the meticulous breakdown of the unprecedented level of extortion members go through daily,” they cried out.
Hear more lamentation from the bus drivers: “From Badagry to Mile 2, we pay N3,500 & N5,000 naira apart from 25 illegal tolling/ticketing by motorpark hoodlums who collect two to three hundred naira per bus. From Seme in their park, they do collect N7,100 in the morning before loading our buses yet we are still subject to illegal collection on the highway.
“On Federal Mass & Coaster bus, we pay over N12,000 on each trip from Oko Afa to CMS or to Oyingbo, which includes loading charges and illegal payments at several bus stops till we get to our destination.
“From Ogijo to Ikorodu, we pay over N5,500 per day. Garage Ticket N850, Chairman ticket N1,700, King’s levy N200, Ita Oluwo N500, Odo Gunyon N1,200, Ile Epo Oba N200. We also pay N900 for passing by whether you pick up a passenger or not.
“At Ikorodu Roundabout we pay N1,000 in the morning and afternoon and we pay N500 in the evening which makes it N2,500. At Benson Bus Stop we pay N900 for a whole day, loading at N300 each for morning, afternoon and evening.
“At Agric Bus Stop we pay N200 to 8 motor park thugs. It is called welcome to Agric tax. When we stop to load for passengers at the agric bus stop we pay an extra N300 which isn’t part of the N1,600 welcome to Agric tax. When we get to Aunty Kenny bus stop we pay N200 before buying Lagos state ticket for N500.
“At Ogolonto busstop, we pay N100. At Mile 12 bus stop we pay N500 for plying the expressway and N1,000 for plying service lane (for buses enroute Yaba oyingbo). Mile 12 to Ojuelegba buses pay N1,500 while red coaster buses pay N2,000.
“Red buses from Ikorodu to Oshodi pay N5,000 to motor park boys in the morning and afternoon. At Ketu bus stop we pay between N600 to N1,000 depending on the size of bus for just dropping off passengers or picking up any single one. For buses plying Yaba to Ikeja, we pay N200 at Jibowu bus stop, total bus stop N100, Fadeyi N100, Onipanu N200, Elediye N200, Palmgrove N200, Anthony N100, Ikeja N200 – total N1,300.
“On our way back to Yaba, Palmgrove & Onipanu is N500, Fadeyi & Total N500, Yaba N200 with LASG N800 ticket making it a total of N3,300 in the morning alone. We pay N2,000 each in the afternoon and evening, which makes a total of N7,300 daily. Korope plying lyana Iba-Okoko to Agbara are paying N5,000 per day to motor park boys without the extra LASTMA & Police Department & Lagos Task Force daily extortion.
“When we resist the extortion, we get arrested and pay N10,000 for bail to the police while the motor park boys go scot free and we also have to bail our buses separately.
Lagos drivers said they also pay for entertainment, security, unit chairman’s food and many other ridiculous levies with threat of violence at any slight refusal by the drivers.
“This is the exact issue of the popular parlance on exploitation of labourers, that says, “baboon dey work and monkey dey chop,” the said.
“Lagos commercial drivers work like elephants and eat like ants while the urchins under the aegis of motor park workers take a large chunk of our earnings. We can hardly fulfill our contractual obligations with our business partners, feed our family or afford maintenance or repair of our vehicles,” the drivers complained.
Their demands, they said, are: “no to charging drivers three passenger money after loading in parks or garages,” saying it should be one passenger’s money per bus.
They also said they want only Lagos State government ticket to be the only ticket in the state, saying that other tickets such as the Lagos State parks & garages management, Lagos State caretaker committee are not acceptable to drivers in Lagos State.
“We kick against paying motor park thugs at every bus stop, asking that all illegal money paid after leaving the garages and parks be abolished immediately, while harassment by law enforcement agencies and intimidation with guns, cutlass, broken bottles by LASTMA, task force and RRS must end immediately.
These government agencies, they lament, collaborate and hire thugs to attack and extort them daily.
According to the union, they have lesser bus stops for commercial vehicles, adding that most bus stops in Lagos are strictly assigned officially to BRT buses only as they get arrested for dropping off passengers at existing bus stops which are known to commuters as official bus stops for decades.
The union is demanding among others that the Lagos State government provide official busstops in each community to avoid incessant arrests and stress for commuters who complain of having to trek several kilometres to their bus stops.
The union called on the Lagos State government to quickly respond to their cries to halt the current anomaly, as failure to adhere to their demands would attract more protest and total boycott of the roads.
The Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN) said it is resolute in pursuing justice by all legitimate and peaceful means available.