14 Nov Nigeria: Okada Operators Profit Amidst Alleged Extortion by LASTMA and Police as Danfo Drivers Suspend Services in Lagos
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
Stranded Commuters as NURTW Danfo Drivers Protest Alleged Extortion
Commuters faced disruption as danfo drivers from the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the Abule-Egba-Iyana-Ipaja axis suspended services yesterday. The protest aimed at condemning alleged extortion and excessive fines imposed on members by state traffic officials and the police.
Workers and students found themselves stranded at various bus stops, waiting in vain for danfo buses. Those daring to operate faced forced turnarounds or had their buses seized by NURTW enforcement teams, complying with the directive.
Many commuters resorted to walking or sought alternatives like commercial motorcyclists (Okada) and tricyclists (Keke). The protest focused on the daily seizure of buses and extortion by officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and policemen on special duties. Impounded buses incurred fines of at least N100,000 before release.
Affected areas included Abule-Egba, Iyana-Ipaja, Dopemu, Egbeda, Ikeja, Oshodi, and surrounding locations. Roads were deserted, with only Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses and private commercial owners operating.
A danfo driver, Abayomi Ahmed, expressed frustration over the unbearable extortion and harassment, leading to the decision to withdraw services. The protest aimed to notify Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and relevant authorities for immediate intervention.
In response, the Lagos State Government assured its commitment to partnering with operators for improved commuting services while prioritizing road safety. Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Sola Giwa, explained the necessity of enforcing the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law, 2018, to sanitize roads and promote good road etiquette.
Despite the assurance, the protest prompted a stakeholders’ meeting involving the Lagos State Police Command, the state government, LASTMA, and NURTW. The meeting addressed concerns raised by drivers, emphasizing collaboration to ensure compliance with traffic laws and monitor the conduct of law enforcement officers.