The Nigeria Automobile Technicians (NATA), Lagos State chapter, on Tuesday, picketed the state’s House of Assembly over alleged illegal take-over of mechanic villages by the state government.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the placard-carrying auto technicians, who defied the heavy rainfall, were seen chanting various solidarity songs during the protest.
The inscriptions on their placards included: “Lagos State Government stop killing us”; “Stop illegal demolition of mechanic villages in Lagos now!”.
Others were “Destroying people’s livelihoods contribute to crime and insecurity, stop it”; “Ifelagba mechanic village was sold for N300 million, where is the money”.
Earlier, the technicians had gathered at the Allen Round About in Ikeja and marched to the state assembly, disrupting free flow of traffic on the busy Obafemi Awolowo way.
The workers were, however, denied entry into the assembly by security agents who barricaded the entrance.
Speaking, NATA Chairman, Mr Jacob Fayehun, expressed dismay over the alleged take-over of the mechanic villages by the state, saying it had resulted in untimely death of some of its members.
According to him, eight of its members have died in the last six months; some suffered strokes and other ailments, with over N500 million in loss of income.
“We are here to protest the illegal demolition of our mechanic villages given to us in 1981 by late governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande.
“The time it was given to us, most of those areas were swampy, but we developed, maintained and made them habitable for our work.
“Now, the Ministry of Physical Planning, through Mr Toyin Soyinka, Special Adviser to the Governor on Transport, has taken over, demolishing our workshops and selling the places to highest bidders,” he said.
Fayehun said that 11 of the mechanic villages across Surulere, Abule Odofin, Ifelagba, Ikorodu and Ladipo, among other areas of the state, had been taken over by the government without due consideration for wellbeing of the workers.
“Lagos State is killing us; coronavirus is not killing us; none of our members die due to the virus, but the state.
“Some of our members have died, suffered strokes and some are in the hospitals; even as we are here, we got a report that one of us died today.
“All these are because of shock; when our villages were destroyed, they took vehicles of our customers away and we were forced to pay N100,000 on each of the vehicles before they were released; you can understand our predicaments,” he said.
The NATA chairman, on behalf of the union, threatened to continue picketing the state assembly until the union’s demands for the return of the mechanic villages to them were met.
He said: “We want our mechanic villages back; this is just the beginning, next week we are coming out again until there is solution to our problem; without us the economy will be paralysed.
“We are fighting this battle for the future generation, so that all our youths and students in technical schools can have a place to work.”
NAN reports that Messrs Nurudeen Solaja-Saka, ‘ Jude Idimogu and Olusegun Akande addressed the protesting technicians on behalf of the lawmakers.
They received their letter of protest and assured the workers that it would be deliberated upon for appropriate action by the assembly.
Akande, who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers said: “Justice shall be done to your petition; the House sits on Thursday; the house is well represented and we are here as your representatives.”