The Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN) have on Monday commenced a seven day strike action to protest against the activities of touts popularly known as “agberos” in the state.
The drivers’ union had earlier given the state government an ultimatum to meet their demands which included the immediate withdrawal of the touts from the roads and stopping them from collecting excessive levies from them, giving the government a Sunday, October 30 deadline to resolve the issues or they would embark on a strike from Monday.
While speaking at a press conference on Sunday evening, the National President of JDWAN, Akintade Abiodun, said representatives of the association met with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation Engr. Abdulhafiz Toriola and the motor park management liaison officer, Hakeem Odumosu (AIG retd) in the company of JDWAN legal adviser, Barrister Ayo Ademiluyi, to resolve the matter to no avail.
He said the essence of the meeting was, however, defeated as all the drivers got was “threats upon threats,” hence the strike will take place as scheduled.
“The leadership of the joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria met with Lagos State government representatives, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation Engr. Abdulhafiz Toriola and the motor park management liaison officer Mr Hakeem Odumosu (AIG retd) in the company of our legal adviser barrister Ayo Ademiluyi,” Akintade said.
“The Lagos State government has since made no concrete response to JDWAN demands, rather, their representatives only asked for another letter to be submitted on Monday, which is regarded as a joke on our part, having released press statements with concise demands.
“We also honoured the demand to deliver physical copy of the letters to the Lagos State government, the SSS, the Commissioner of Police and Commissioner for Transportation respectively.
“The retired AIG also expressly said they can’t get rid of bus stop to bus stop extortionists because they are working for the state government.
“He also suggested that MC Oluomo can organize thugs to attack us and we will be blamed or credited for the violence, all in a failed fear-mongering tactics, also the assistant to the Minister for Transportation threatened to arrest us and our lawyer while in their office.
“The statement of threat by Hakeem Odumosu that MC oluomo could attack our members, is already happening, through Sile Sekoni (Burger) of Badagry roundabout motor park management branch, JAFO (Oniba of Iba) of caretaker committee, Iba branch, and Seyi Bamgbose (Student) of Iyana Iba caretaker committee branch, who threatened to beat and kill drivers on Monday 31st of October.
“JDWAN notes that Lagosians must be aware that if anything happens to our drivers, the elements named above should be held responsible.
“It is sad that the representatives of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu are mocking Lagos drivers’ predicament and are disinterested in stopping the major factor causing high cost of living in Lagos, by asking for another letter and demanding that we call off the boycott without addressing our five demands.
“Drivers and commuters have had a brimful of extortion and harassment from the motor park management and caretaker committee thugs popularly known as Agbero.
“It is also visible to the blind in Lagos that the cost of goods and services is a consequence of Agbero’s extortion, no goods can be delivered and 95% of working-class resident can be transported without the service of commercial drivers.
“The unfettered and violent extortion by the Lagos government agents has not only increased transportation fare beyond the affordability of workers but also made every good and service out of reach of the poor Lagosians,” he said.