By Esther Onyegbula
LAGOS— Tricycle operators at the PWD Park in Ikeja, GRA, Lagos State have called on the state government to come to their rescue over alleged extortion and intimidation by the chairman of the park.
Trouble, as gathered, started after the park, which was originally operated by commercial motorcycle riders, was allegedly hijacked, after the state government restricted their operation within Ikeja metropolis.
When some of the commercial motorcyclists who reportedly started operating tricycle returned to the park, they met a new management which they accused of extorting money from them.
Vanguard investigation revealed that each tricycle operator pays a compulsory fee of between N15,000 and N30,000 for registration.
Aside, the operators said they pay N1,300 daily to Chairman of the park, a payment they said is never receipted.
Failure to pay the levies, the operators said would be intimidated by thugs who allegedly work with the new management of the park.
One of the operators who gave his name as Amodu Owonikoko told Vanguard: “This PWD park used to be operated by commercial bike operators in 2011 while the tricycle operators used the other side of the road as their park.
“In October 2012, after the ban of commercial bike riders, a lot of us acquired tricycles to avoid problems with the government.
“Unfortunately when we returned with our tricycles, operators at the other side of the road had occupied our park. All effort to reclaim our park was futile.
“Instead of making trouble we decided to co-exist with them. Over the years the extortion that we have been faced with has become unbearable.
“For instance operators who have old tricycles are made to register with N15,000 while those fortunate to buy new ones are made to pay N30,000.
“Apart from the registration fee, we are forced to pay N1,300 daily to the park authorities under the leadership of one Mr. Daniel Ojuola, who used to be a tricycle operator.
However, when Vanguard met with the park’s Chairman, Mr Daniel Ojuola, he declined comments, threatening to sue Vanguard if any of these findings are published.
According to him, whatsoever happens in the PWD tricycle park happens in other parks.
“This is my private business and I have the right to run it the way I want it. Any tricycle operator who is not comfortable with the way things are done in the park should quit,” Ojuola said.