Commercial bus drivers in Lagos state, under the eagis of Joint Drivers’ Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN) has explained why it would embark on strike and protest from Monday October 31, 2022.
The association addressed a press conference on Friday October 28 at Rights House, 43, Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja, Lagos, saying members of the association have been pushed to the wall through multiple and excessive extortion in the course of discharging their duty in the state.
They said they cannot continue to operate under the current atmosphere, hence they want to embark on the industrial action.
After the press conference, the association made a statement available to the media where it highlighted some of the problems before its members.
The statement which was also made available to Transportation Plus Magazine was duly signed by the executives of the association namely Akintade S. Abiodun- National Leader, Opeyemi Sulaiman- Chairman, Ajimatanarareje A. Feyisayo- General Secretary, Taofik Hassan-Assistant Secretary and Ayo Ademiluyi- General Counsel and Legal Adviser;
The statement reads in part: “We are a broad association of commercial bus drivers that earn our living through our profession of driving.
“We make this distinction as a point of divergence from the “transport unions” , who are made up of individuals who do not earn their living as drivers.
“We are saddened that despite our dedication to our work, we have been subjected to indiscriminate extortion, violent harassment by the management.
“As commercial drivers in Lagos State under the aegis of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN) , we are left with no choice than. to embark on seven days protest and boycott of services across the over multiple and excessive extortion by the management of parks and garages in the state.
“We have called this Press Conference to notify members of the public and the Lagos state government over multiple and excessive extortion by the motor parks and garages management.
“The cost of transportation affects cost of goods and services and consequently the cost of living, which has spiraled astronomically in Lagos State as a result of the effect of motor parks excessive and illegal ticketing and tolling at almost every bus stop.
“We have been sentenced to the extortion and violent harassment of the state transport agencies – Lagos State motor parks and garages management and Lagos State caretaker committee.
“On a daily basis, we lose half of our income to the motor park boys. We pay exorbitant charges in the garages and at every bus stop where we drop off passengers, whether we pick up passengers or not, we pay morning, afternoon and night. Some routes have 25 bus stops which also serve as illegal tax collection avenues.
“We crave the indulgence of the public to go through the meticulous breakdown of this unprecedented level of extortion we go through below:
“From Badagry to Mile 2, we pay N3,500 & N5,000 naira apart from 25 illegal tolling/ticketing by motorpark hoodlums who collect two to three hundred naira per bus. From Seme in their park, they do collect N7,100 in the morning before loading our buses yet we are still subject to illegal collection on the highway.
“On Federal Mass & Coaster, we pay over N12,000 on each trip from Oko Afo to CMS or to Oyingbo, which includes loading charges and illegal payments at several bus stops till we get to our destination.
“From Ogijo to Ikorodu, we pay over N5,500 per day. Garage Ticket N850, Chairman ticket N1,700, King’s levy N200, Ita Oluwo N500, Odo Gunyon N1,200, Ile Epo Oba N200. We also pay N900 for passIng by whether you pick up a passenger or not.
“(At Ikorodu Roundabout we pay N1,000 in the morning and afternoon and we pay N500 in the evening which makes it N2,500. At Benson Bus Stop we pay N900 for a whole day, loading at N300 each for morning, afternoon and evening.
“At Agric Bus Stop we pay N200 to 8 motor park thugs. It is called welcome to Agric tax. When we stop to load for passengers at the agric bus stop we pay an extra N300 which isn’t part of the N1,600 welcome to Agric tax. When we get to Aunty Kenny bus stop we pay N200 before buying Lagos state ticket for N500.
“”At Ogolonto bus stop we pay N100. At Mile 12 bus stop we pay N500 for plying the expressway and N1,000 for plying service lane (for buses enroute Yaba oyingbo). Mile 12 to Ojuelegba buses pay N1,500 while red coaster buses pay N2,000.
“Red buses from Ikorodu to Oshodi pay N5,000 to motor park boys in the morning and afternoon. At Ketu bus stop we pay between N600 to N1,000 depending on the size of bus for just dropping off passengers or picking up any single one. For buses plying Yaba to Ikeja, we pay N200 at Jibowu bus stop, total bus stop N100, Fadeyi N100, Onipanu N200, Elediye N200, Palmgrove N200, Anthony N100, Ikeja N200 – total N1,300.
“On our way back to Yaba, Palmgrove & Onipanu is N500, Fadeyi & Total N500, Yaba N200 with LASG N800 ticket making it a total of N3,300 in the morning alone. We pay N2,000 each in the afternoon and evening, which makes a total of N7,300 daily. Korope plying lyana Iba-Okoko to Agbara are paying N5,000 per day to motor park boys without the extra LASTMA & Police Department & Lagos Task Force daily extortion.
“When we resist the extortion, we get arrested and pay N10,000 for bail to the police while the motor park boys go scot free and we also have to bail our buses separately.
“Lagos drivers also pay for entertainment, security, unit chairman’s food and many other ridiculous levies with threat of violence at any slight refusal by the drivers. This is the exact case of the popular parlance on exploitation of labourers, “baboon dey work and monkey dey chop”.
“Lagos commercial drivers work like elephants and eat like ants while the urchins under the aegis of motor park workers take a large chunk of our earnings. We can hardly fulfill our contractual obligations with our business partners, feed our family or afford maintenance or repair of our vehicles.
“Our demands are: No to charging drivers three passengers money after loading in parks or garages, we are demanding it should be one passenger’s money per bus. We demand that only Lagos State government ticket should be the only ticket in Lagos. Others like Lagos State parks & garages management, Lagos State caretaker committee are not acceptable to all drivers in Lagos State.
“We kick against Paying motor park thugs at every bus stop. All illegal money paid after we leave the garages and parks should be abolished immediately. Harassment of law enforcement agencies & intimidation with guns, cutlass, broken bottles by LASTMA, task force and RRS must end immediately. They collaborate and hire thugs to attack and extort us every day without violating any law.
“We have lesser bus stops for commercial vehicles. Most bus stops in Lagos are strictly assigned officially to brt buses only and we get arrested for dropping off passengers at existing bus stops which are known to commuters as official bus stops for decades. We demand that the Lagos State government should provide official bus stops in each community to avoid incessant arrests and stress for commuters who complain of having to trek several kilometres back to their bus stops.
“We call on the Lagos State government to quickly respond to avert the current anomaly. Failure to adhere to these demands will only attract more protest and total boycott, the Joint drivers welfare association of Nigeria (JDWAN) is resolute in pursuing justice by all legitimate and peaceful means available.”
The rate of extortion bandits in the State is alarming, and the ignoble activities is capable to dent not only the image of the State, but also that of the nation as a whole, because, Lagos is the symbol and economic center of Nigeria nation, therefore, all necessary measure should be put in place to checkmate the trend.