Commuters in Lagos State were on Wednesday stranded at bus-stops as some commercial bus drivers downed their tools to protest against excessive levies by touts at garages and bus stops.
Drivers under the aegis of the Joint Drivers’ Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN) had in October last year embarked on a seven-day strike to register their displeasure over the matter.
THE WHISTLER gathered that the drivers had earlier in the morning blocked Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, but were dispersed by the Police.
Speaking with THE WHISTLER, a commuter, Yemi Adelaja who works at a hotel in Iyana Ipaja said because of her inability to get a bus to convey her to her destination, she had contacted her office to inform them she will not make it to work today.
She said: “I’ve been standing here for hours trying to get a bus to no avail. I’ve contacted my office to tell them that I won’t make it to work today.”
Many commuters were seen trekking along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, while others waited endlessly for other alternatives.
Some of the drivers who spoke to THE WHISTLER on the condition of anonymity for fear of victimization said before now, they were paying about N13,500 as levies on daily basis, but it was jacked up to N18,300 on Monday without any prior notice to them or consultation.
The drivers alleged that the state government has refused to allow them form an association despite several requests in this regard.
“Just take a look at me,” one of the drivers said, pointing at his bedroom slippers and trousers. “The Agberos (touts) are enjoying themselves. You see them in jeep and living good life, while we’re struggling to make ends meat.”
Another driver when asked why they did not go to the state ministry of transport to protest over the hike in levies said: “They’ll not listen to us. If we go there, they’ll ask us who our chairman is, and we don’t have any.”
Also speaking with THE WHISTLER, a driver alleged that the touts claimed that it was the state government that asked them to increase the levies.
“They said it was (Babajide) Sanwo-Olu (the state governor) that asked them to increase the levies to recoup the money he spent before election and after election, they should provide it. That’s why they increased the money. That’s what they told us,” he alleged.
“Agberos are driving new cars, while we that are doing the job are struggling,” he lamented.
Some motorcyclists and tricycle operators are currently plugging the gap that has been created as a result of the refusal of the drivers to work.
Effort to speak with the the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, proved abortive as he did not pick his call.