…as commuters blame govt, NURTW
By Bose Adelaja
None of the passengers in the yellow painted commercial bus suspected anything unusual when the bus took off from Apongbon area of Lagos, heading towards Lawanson the supposed destination of some of them. Maybe they had no choice in boarding the bus as its arrival was a welcome relief after a long wait under the sun.
So immediately they sighted the bus with plate number LAGOS KRD 122 SK descending the Apongbon bridge, with the bus conductor shouting on top of his voice in Yoruba Language, ‘’Lawanson l’ele yi n lo o (this one is going to Lawanson), please enter with your change’’, the unsuspecting passengers wasted no time in boarding it.
It was a smooth ride as the passengers were entertained with cool music by the driver of the bus, while some of the passengers engaged in discussion on subjects of various interest.
But the trip on that fateful Wednesday March 26, 2014, was later to take a frightening turn as three passengers were dispossessed of their belongings by their ‘co-passengers’. Time was 4pm.
Vanguard Metro gathered that the driver of the bus, who obviously was a partner in crime with the other so-called seven passengers, suddenly took a different route after a serious warning to the ‘strangers’ in the bus ‘’to obey our instructions’’ or die.
On hearing this, the trio pleaded that their lives be spared and promptly handed over everything in their possession as instructed.
One of the victims, a Lagos broadcaster, said until the operation was successfully carried out, it did not occur to her that seven of the passengers were part of the criminals.
The broadcaster who was identified as Oreoluwa Ogunnaike said: ‘’After dispossessing us of our belongings, they also prevented us from interacting. They later dropped us at different destinations without a kobo ‘’.
Oreoluwa who was stricken with fear, said she trekked a long distance before she could get help. ‘’I approached an Okada rider who listened to my story and out of concern, he offered to take me to the nearest Police station’’.
But instead of the relief she expected from the Police, the broadcaster said she got the disappointment of her life when policemen at the counter demanded money from her to hire a tricycle. They said this was to enable them to trace the suspected bus and bring the perpetrators to book.
At this juncture, the victim demanded to see the Divisional Police Officer of the Station but she was prevented from doing so in spite of the fact that ‘’on getting there, I introduced myself as a journalist”.
When the distraught journalist could not get any assistance from the Police, she called on her friends and relatives who rallied to her assistance.
In a similar incident, a photo journalist with Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Abiodun Ogunleye, will not forget his encounter with ‘One chance’ operators along the Apapa-Oshodi expressway. That was on Friday March 21 after covering an event at a popular hotel around Second Rainbow. The photo journalist boarded a danfo bus around 11pm from Mile 2-Oke enroute Cele expressway oblivious of the trouble ahead.
As he later told VM, hardly had the bus got to Sanya bus-stop than a ‘passenger’ in the bus brought out a gun and proclaimed thus: ‘’Eh, look up, you better co-operate or you have yourself to blame”. The ladies inside the bus were asked to drop their bags, while the males were thoroughly searched, while items found on them were collected on the spot.
Abiodun who sat close to the door was almost spared. Unfortunately the person sitting close to him pointed at him. He explained to his assailants that he was a photo journalist who was returning from an event. They were not impressed by this and instead descended on him, hitting him with the butt of a gun. They eventually made away with his company identity card, his camera and accessories, cell phones, a hand bag and N28,000 cash.
Meanwhile, some commuters in Lagos have called on governments in the country to use everything at their disposal to curb the menace of commercial bus robbers popularly known as ‘One chance’ in the State.
At Festac Town, Mrs Adebamowo Omolara urged government to provide functional Close Circuit Television, CCT, in most parts of the State in order to monitor activities in designated areas. “I understand that government has erected CCTV in most parts of the state but how many of them are functional? They need to do something so that our lives will be safer in the state,’’ she said.
Another commuter in Ikoyi, Sebastine Chukwu, blamed the National Union of Road Transporters Workers, NURTW, for not managing the union well. ‘’You see, we cannot leave everything in the hand of government; all hands must be on deck. NURTW should be held responsible because its officials are busy collecting levies on the road in spite of the fact that their activities have been restricted to the park. Many of them can easily identify ‘’One Chance’’ vehicles but they show little or no concern because they are busy collecting illegal levies,’’ he said.