Lagbus Drivers Protest Restriction From Brt Lanes
BEVERLY HILLS, April 01, (THEWILL) – Commuters in Lagos were stranded on Friday after drivers of LAGBUS downed tools to protest restrictions preventing them from plying Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) lanes in the state.
Tension had been rife since December when the Ikorodu-Mile 12 BRT corridor was opened and a new operator for the blue buses resumed.
Some drivers told NAN in separate interviews that the management had failed to address issues relating to the restriction and poor staff welfare.
On Friday morning, more than 60 drivers converged at the entrance of the Toll-Gate depot of LAGBUS.
The protesting drivers prevented any bus from leaving the premises of the company, while those who returned late to the depot on Thursday parked outside.
A driver who preferred anonymity said: “our red buses were denied access to use the dedicated lane; and any red bus that plied it was arrested and fined.
“So, our management asked us to comply with the directive which they said was from the government; we accepted.
“But only yesterday, Thursday, the restriction was extended from Mile 12 to CMS and we began to experience arrests and harassment by the BRT monitoring task force for using the corridor.
“Instead, we are being asked to use the service lane which we consider dangerous to our lives because they want us to now compete with yellow-painted buses whose drivers already accuse us of taking all their passengers.
“So, that's the reason for the peaceful protest.”
The driver said apart from posing a security threat, the restriction had defeated the purpose of reducing delays for passengers and exposed drivers to stress.
He said efforts to have the management of LAGBUS intervene bore no fruit.
“They refused to act, instead, they told us to comply with the directive,” he said.
Another source accused the management of paying lip service to welfare issues.
“As drivers, we earn a salary of between N22,000 and N42,000 a month,” he said.
“Our basic salary is actually N22,000 monthly, but you earn additional N1,000 for each day you sign in for work, then another N1,000 if you are lucky to get a bus to drive for the day.
“We are also given four per cent of our daily revenue, especially when we meet sales target.”
“How can we earn so little each month when our contemporaries working for the blue buses earn as much as N80,000 monthly without targets?”
Efforts to reach both the managing director of LAGBUS and its spokesperson for reactions proved abortive as calls to their phones did not connect.
However, a senior staff of LAGBUS who did not want his name in print because he was not authorised to speak on the matter said the issues would be resolved.
“It is true that our captains are on strike because of issues concerning the restrictions and management's inability to carry every staff along,” he said.
“But, I am sure that the issues would be resolved amicably and commuters would begin to enjoy our services once again.”
Some stranded passengers urged the Lagos state Government to intervene in the matter in the interest of commuters and residents of Lagos.
“I want to appeal to Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode to wade into this issue because exposing us (passengers) to the chaotic traffic situation after a hectic day's would be unfair,” said Caroline Chinedu, a banker.
“The red buses have been life savers, especially during traffic, as they just glide unhindered along the dedicated lane.
“So, asking them to use the service lane means many of us who work on the Island would arrive home in the dead of the night.”
Musiliu Kamoru, another commuter said: “The drivers and their management should ensure the issues are resolved during the weekend to reduce passenger hardship on Monday.”
“We are still battling with increased transport fare caused by fuel scarcity, and now the LAGBUS issue is rearing its head.”
Story by David Oputah