Tension in Lagos...As Fashola Outlaws Okada, NURTW Activities
Huhuonline.com can report that there is unprecedented tension in Lagos State, following Friday's proscription of the activities of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) by the State Government.
Meanwhile members of the union popularly called agbero, have vowed to wreak anarchy in the State, just as residents are already agitating against the ban placed on commercial motorcycles in most areas of the State, claiming that the state government's action could increase crime rate in the state.
Government officials led by the Commissioner for Transport, Kayode Opeifa, had on Friday afternoon, announced that with the signing of the Road Traffic Law, it had been resolved that the activities of the union in motor parks had been banned.
A senior official of the union, who spoke on phone with Huhuonline.com, said the government had bitten more than it could chew. According to him, the NURTW is a union recognised in the country "and in Lagos, we have been at peace with ourselves when compared with other states of the federation. The question is: why would he just wake up and ask his commissioners to announce a ban on our activities?
"This is the same State Government that is purportedly doing everything to stem the spate of insecurity in the State. I can assure you that majority of the youths in this State are members of the union collecting levies from motorists in the various motor parks in Lagos State.
"If you stop us from the motor parks, is that not a total ban? Everyone knows our workshop is the motor parks and anything done to hinder us from using our workshop means romancing trouble."
A resident of the State who gave his name as Babatunde Ajayi, lamented the announcement, stressing that "they (NURTW) have no other means of livelihood and have only kept us at some peace. Just imagine what would happen when they are asked off their activities which are recognised by labour, I mean the Nigeria Labour Congress."
Another resident and banker, Victor Adams, told Huhuonline.com that when he called some of his friends after he heard of the ban, the fear is that insecurity, armed robbery and other crimes would increase seriously.
"Even while the ban had not been affected, there were recorded crimes. I don't want to pre-empt what the situation would be, but I can tell you that just as armed robbery would increase, petty stealing would rise.
"Before now, one could stand at bus stops and motor parks and wait confidently for buses and okada to pick passengers, but now, no one would stay in such places at night anymore because if you do that, it would be at your own risk."
A copy of the signed Road Traffic Law obtained by Huhuonline.com on Friday afternoon listed all the 41 bridges in the State as no-go areas for commercial motorcycles. It also listed 11 major highways in the State that should not be plied by commercial motorcycles and tricycles.
These include the Lagos-Ibadan, Apapa-Oshodi, Oworoshoki-Oshodi, Lagos-Ikorodu, Lagos-Abeokuta, Eti-Osa-Lekki, Lagos-Badagry, Babangida Bouleverde expressways, the Funsho Williams Avenue, Agege Motor Road and the Eti-Osa-Lekki Coastal Road.
The Law also banned motorcycles and tricycles from 441 roads and streets in the State and further banned them from the entire network of roads and bridges in Lagos Island East and Lagos Island West Local Government Areas.
Commercial motorcycles are also not allowed to ply the entire network of roads and bridges in Ikoyi-Obalende and Victoria Island local Council Development Areas as well as Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway with many residents and commercial motorcycle riders concluding that the government's action was synonymous with the long planned ban on their activities.
Findings have however revealed that he union may be forced to seek redress in the courts, adding that the motorcycle riders association had won a court suit it filed against the State Government after an earlier ban