By BOSE ADELAJA
BARELY few weeks after Lagos State government signed the Traffic Bill into law, which among other things restricts officials of the National Union of Roads and Transport Workers, NURTW, to their motor parks, some members of the union have devised a smarter way to continue with their nefarious activities on the roads.
This time around they go about in mufti, to confuse the general public that they are complying with the new law.
Vanguard investigation revealed that the drivers are exploited particularly when the park chairmen have unexpected guests. Their boys will then be sent out to raise some funds to cater for entertainment among other expenses. This is not limited to motor parks as almost all the bus-stops have agberos controlling them.
The dues, range from chairman’s money, security money (meant for security operatives), visitors’ entertainment, chairman’s lunch) to mention just a few, are collected from the commercial bus drivers while any driver who fails to comply will be severely dealt with.
Vanguard’s visit to some bus-stops like Iyana Ipaja, Ketu, Odogunyan, Mile 12, Oshodi, Mushin, Palmgrove, Ojodu Berger, Pen Cinema and Obalende revealed that the ‘Agberos’ are fully operational on the roads though many of them are now in mufti, abandoning their green-white-green uniforms.
Badaru Tijani, a commercial bus driver, who claimed the job is always tasking, told Megacity: “At the main park, you have to pay N1,200 and at different bus-stops, you pay a minimum of N400 during the trip. In a nut shell, the earning from the first trip goes for park payment and settlement, some with tickets and others without. How will I get money for other necessary expenses like fueling and minor repairs.”
Expensive clothes and jewellery
Investigations reveal that these illegal tolls are collected in three shifts – morning, afternoon and evenings. Chairmen of the ‘Agberos’ live flamboyant lives, live in the best homes, ride expensive cars, wear the most expensive clothes and jewellery and flirt with society ladies.
In a chat with Vanguard, some commuters Mrs. Aminat Keshinron, Nkem Odunm and Kingsely Osahon reacted negatively to this act saying the government haven passed the law is supposed to put men of the State Security Service SSS, on the roads to checkmate these excesses and restore sanity.
However, an official of Lagos State branch of NURTW, Comrade Paul Ogini, dissociated the Union from the nefarious ploys, saying those on the roads were mere touts and were not sent by the Union. He said: “There is a clear difference between ‘Area boys’ and NURTW. Our members are duly informed and cannot operate on the roads; anybody found collecting dues on the roads should be brought to book by the government.”