By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
Lagos—At least over 15 passengers, including drivers of Primero Bus Services, operator of Bus Raid Transit, BRT, have been hospitalised while 12 BRT buses were vandalised, following attack in the early hours of yesterday, in Lagos, when miscreants and commuters took to the road along Ikorodu Road to protest the ban of LAGBUS Asset Management, operator of the red buses from plying the BRT, corridor along the axis.
Lagos State government, through Acting Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Anofiu Elegushi, at the weekend, announced the ban of LAGBUS buses, from plying Ikorodu Bus Rapid Transit, BRT corridor, saying plans have been concluded to introduce Intelligent Traffic System along the corridor.
Apparently, reacting to the development yesterday, drivers and ticket sellers to LABUS commuters, embarked on indefinite strike while miscreants and other irate commuters took the road barring BRT buses from operation as well.
The development led to scarcity of commercial buses along Ikorodu Road forcing commuters to trek long distances while, motorists were stuck in the attendant terrible traffic gridlock.
In the process, no fewer than 15 passengers including drivers of BRT buses were wounded in the rampage and about 12 buses vandalised.
Nine protesters arrested
Meantime, nine persons were arrested yesterday during the protest by staffs of LAGBUS Asset Management, operators of LAGBUS buses, against Lagos State government ban of their operation from Ikorodu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors.
One of the suspects identified as Modechai Abiodun, in his late 20s, who was allegedly stabbed during the protest that lasted for several hours, by some members of another franchise legalized by the state government to use the corridor.
Vanguard gathered that the staffs were arrested by policemen attached to Rapid Response Squad, RRS, led by Commander, Babatunde Disu, who handed them over to the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offence Unit for prosecution.
A staff of Telecommunication Company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Vanguard that the suspects were arrested at Majidun end of Ikorodu road for barricading busy road, complaining that the new development could lead to retrenchment and force them out of business.
He noted that the suspects and his colleagues attacked the BRT buses, forcing some to park or returning to their bus yard; the action which further aggravated the gridlock on the road and many commuters sighted waiting for the buses at different bus shelters
A source at Primero headquarters in Ikorodu, who referred anonymity, said the injured are currently receiving treatment at various hospitals while the vandalised buses were taken to the BRT Yard.
At the State House, the protesters who were addressed by Elegushi, who noted that the government action was to ensure sanity within the axis.
Also, the Managing Director of LAGBUS Asset Management Limited, Mr. Idowu Oguntona, said efforts were being made to ensure that commuters are not adversely affected.
When contacted, Director, Public Affairs of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, LAMATA, Mr. Kolawole Ojelabi, confirmed the report, saying “The situation has been brought under control as policemen have restored normalcy.”
She said “It’s so worrisome that this is happening on a Monday morning. I have been hearing the information that red buses will not be working since yesterday (Sunday). I thought it would have been resolved by today, but as usual we don’t have a proactive government that forestalls events.
“I have been here for more than 3 hours with no hope. The danfo and other commercial buses took advantage to increase fares astronomically. Ketu which ordinarily is N100 was raised to N500. It became a case of two elephants fighting and the grass suffering. I hope by noon, an agreement would have been reached to amicably resolve the issue.”
Another commuter, Ahmed Olawale, condemned protest embarked upon by the drivers and ticket dealers; even as he urged the state government to often consider commuters before formulating policies.
According to Ojelabi, further actions by the state government would be communicated in due course.