By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
Following the crisis on Monday between Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, officials and commercial bus operators, suspected to be members of unregistered Association of Danfo Drivers of Lagos State, the state government has confirmed the arrest of about 20 people involved in the showdown.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, disclosed this at a media briefing yesterday on the update of crisis.
According to him, the suspects who were picked up by men of the state Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences Unit would soon be arraigned in a Magistrate Court.
LASTMA not involved
However, contrary to the report going on that the commercial bus drivers were protesting against the operations of the LASTMA, Opeifa said such information was not true as there was no crisis between the transport union, especially members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW and the traffic Agency.
Also, at a separate forum, Secretary of NURTW, Mr. Kayode Adeyangi and Opeifa had denied the involvement of their members and officials respectively in the crisis.
Opeifa, who expressed displeasure about the disorderliness, attributed it to plan by some faceless and disgruntled persons to disrupt the peace in the state.
According to Opeifa, investigation by LASTMA and the office of the Special Adviser indicated that it was a group of unidentified sponsored people that caused the public disorder along Oworonsoki and Orile -Mile 2 axis, adding that LASTMA was at no time involved in the crisis.
According to him, â€œthe government will not condone any plan by anybody to disrupt the peace of the state and neither would LASTMA leave the road for the hoodlums to commit traffic illegality. Everyday, we record a LASTMA official being attacked and wounded by these hoodlums. They are also human beings and I think, we should appreciate the great job they are doing in the society in terms of traffic management.â€
Fake LASTMA officials
Opeifa also alerted that scores of people have been parading themselves on the streets of Lagos metropolis as officials of LASTMA, saying: â€œThere are now fake LASTMA officials in the state who have been extorting motorists in the guise of controlling traffic.â€
He said most of the fake officials parade Oshodi, Orile and Mile 2 areas of the state wearing LASTMA uniform but with no caps and name tags to identify them.
Opeifa explained that most of them connive with the police to perpetrate nefarious activities and called on members of the public to be wary of their antics.
â€œOur investigation revealed that these set of hoodlums always demand N100, 000 for their victims to be set free. They drive their victims to the gate of LASTMA office, cajole them to part with some money or risk higher fees if they are eventually taken to the LASTMA yard,â€ he said.
He said motorists had the option of not paying any fine if they obey traffic rules and regulations to the letter.
Opeifa, therefore, advised members of the public to go about their lawful duties as the security operatives had been directed to ensure law and order on Lagos roads.
He enjoined those who might be aggrieved with the operations of the Agency to feel free and make their complaints known at LASTMA Complaint Unit specially created by Governor Babatunde Fashola.