By Godwin Oritse
THERE was pandemonium at the Tin-Can first gate and the Fatgbems Gas Station end of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway, yesterday, as suspected members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, launched an attack on members of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, over ticket fee, leaving 15 people injured with gunshot wounds.
The Truck Transit Park Limited, TTP, was also attacked, as the unions destroyed property, including its electronic barriers and some yet to be ascertained items, during the crisis.
Vanguard gathered that trouble started from the Tin-Can end of the road when NURTW members approached the port to dislodge members of RTEAN, to issue tickets to truck drivers for a fee, a move RTEAN members group vehemently opposed.
Fight, however, broke out as guns and other dangerous weapons were freely deployed.
Speaking on the development, Vice Chairman of RTEAN, Comrade Adeola Adeyemi, said: “I have reported this matter to the authorities severally for their intervention but, until yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) attack on us, there was no form of intervention.
“Before the attack, the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu invited both Unions to a meeting but members of the NURTW refused to attend the meeting.
“These unprovoked attacks have been going on in the last four weeks without any intervention by the authorities.”
Efforts to reach Mr. Abebi Ajele of the NURTW proved abortive as calls made to his phone were not answered.
Police, Lagos govt keep mum
When contacted, the Lagos Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Adekunle Ajisebutu, a Chief Superintendent of Police, said: “I am not aware of the incident that took place around the Apapa–Mile 2 area of Lagos but I will get back to you as soon as possible.”
Similarly, Special Assistant to the Governor of Lagos on Transportation, Mr. Toyin Fayinka said that he could not react to the crisis because he has not been officially communicated.
“I cannot comment on what I have not been officially communicated until that is done I am sorry I cannot say anything on the matter. I am a public servant, please understand my situation”, Fayinka said.
Our property were destroyed —TTP
Meanwhile, the Corporate and Communication Manager of the Truck Transit Park Limited, TTP, Toni Anne Uwaifo said that the firm lost some valuable properties to the crisis as hoodlums destroyed its electronic barriers and some yet to be ascertained items.
Uwaifo said: “The open sabotage of the call-up system is a sad development and a stark reminder of how rift corruption is in our society.
“An interesting fact from the incident is that the caterpillar truck driver approached the barrier from the side of the barrier, not in front or from behind, he drove from the side, a rather awkward angle”
It was gathered that since the access barrier was mounted as part of ETO facilities, hoodlums and touts around the port have complained that their unfettered access to the port is being restricted.
According to an eyewitness, the driver claimed his brakes had failed.
Our correspondent gathered from TTP staff on the ground at the exit gates that several touts had been threatening to pull down the barrier just so they could carry out their illegal activities at the ports without the ETO call-up.