June 10, 2009

LASTMA officials, bus drivers in free-for-all

By Evelyn Usman
Officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and commercial bus drivers, yesterday, engaged in a free-for-all in Mushin, Ijesha and Ejigbo areas of Lagos, following attempt to impound some commercial buses in which more than four passengers sat on a row.

The encounter caused a hitch in the free flow of traffic as LASTMA officials stationed at various junctions to control traffic around the areas, all took to their heels, when some hoodlums reportedly hijacked the situation.

Commercial drivers have to this end, resolved yesterday, to be off the road today to protest what they described as exploitation, intimidation and molestation by LASTMA officials.

Report said trouble started yesterday at about 7 a.m. when some LASTMA officials started impounding LT buses which conveyed more that 20 passengers.

Eye witnesses said trouble first erupted around Oke-Afa, Isolo, when one of the buses was stopped by LASTMA officials, leading to a verbal confrontation which later degenerated into a physical combat. The encounter in Mushin and Ijesha was reportedly more violent as some lASTMA officials were said to have been injured.

Commuters were stranded for hours, as commercial buses abandoned the routes. Most commuters had to trek long distances before they could board buses to their respective destinations.

Motorcyclists on the other hand, charged thrice the normal fare from  those who could afford it, on realizing that was the only alternative means of transportation.

One of the aggrieved drivers  who simply identified himself as Olusola said, “ anytime we park on the service lane to either pick or drop passengers, they would just appear from no where and arrest the conductors at the end of which we would part with nothing less than N10,000. We have therefore resolved to keep off the road tomorrow(today) except something urgent is done before 6pm today (yesterday) to resolve this molestation, intimidation and exploitation”.