The Self-Employed Commercial Drivers Association of Nigeria (SECDAN) have issued two-week ultimatum to the Lagos State Government to stop the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the sister association, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) from extorting them.
SECDAN noted that after the expiration of the ultimatum, it would be forced to use all existing peaceful means to encourage a change in the transport sector for other states to follow.
Lagos State Chairman, SECDAN, Alhaji Job Abifarin, in a statement on Tuesday said the NURTW and RTEAN agents were harassing and forcing each of its drivers to pay N30, 000 to them on a daily basis.
Abifarin lamented that over the years, the activities of NURTW/RTEAN in Lagos roads had been discovered to be alien, illegal and as one that did not conform with any known economic logic or political explanation in the world.
“Even as we don’t want to comment on the existence and acceptability of the 2 organisations in the State, we believe that their role in the transport sector of the State should by now be seen as an embarrassment and unfortunate in Lagos State, the so called Centre of Excellence in the country and a Mega City in the world.
“Today, no one is unaware of the touts’ activities across all bus stops, and garages in the State. They are violent, they maim, they destroy, they have no respect or any regard to the laws of the State, they are irresponsible and very embarrassing to everything the Transport Sector represents to Lagos State.
“For record, drivers and owners in Lagos State today are frustrated and amazed of the annoying silence of the State Government to the glaring violent and illegal extortions of the Unions’ Agent in the State, even in the midst of the fact that most drivers do not belong to their Unions or are actually members of different Associations and or Unions,” he said.
According to Abifarin, in a situation where each commercial driver is made to forcefully pay over N30,000.00 daily to these unions and with no clear reasons or for which purposes, is painfully baffling and alien in a Mega City.
The chairman said the dangerous refusal of the state government to arrest the ugly trend and accept the fact that the operations and agents of the two unions had become an embarrassment to the image of Lagos State and a clog in the crusade to make Lagos a truly safe place for all businesses, is worrisome.
Abifarin challenged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to take another look at the transport sector of the State economy and do a sincere and open assessment of what the touts of the two unions had become in the State today.
“Because of the silence of the government and due to our teeming members’ frustration and complains, we have resolved to sound out a clear warning signal to the Government and good people of Lagos State through a 2 Days Warning strike (today 13th December and tomorrow 14th December) and withdrawal of our vehicles from the roads starting first in the Ikorodu axis of the State.
“This action becomes more unavoidable due to the activities of various Agencies of Government, who seem to always give the unions more room to further continue their illegal activities with violence and of no fear or regard to any existing law(s) in the State,” he said.
“We hope to see a sincere and radical masses-friendly change in the Lagos State Transport Sector in the next two weeks, failure of which we dare say may create a serious issue in the State as we will be left with no choice than to explore all existing peaceful means to encourage a change in the Sector for other States to follow,” he added.