Following the crisis engulfing the National Union of Road Transport Workers Union in Lagos State, the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu Government has suspended the activities of the union from all parks and garages with immediate effect.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, made this known in a statement late Thursday.
The statement titled, ‘Lagos Suspends Nurtw From Parks’, read, “The Lagos State Government has been watching closely events in the National Union of Road Transport Workers Union. There have been claims and counterclaims over the control of the union.
“The Government has a duty to ensure the safety of lives and property of all Lagosians and visitors. Therefore, there is an urgent need to douse the unnecessary tension generated by the leadership tussle in the NURTW and protect the citizenry from the likely fallout of the situation.
“After considering the provisions of the law, the Government hereby suspends the activities of NURTW, which must cease to operate in all parks and garages in Lagos State.
“The Government will set up a Committee to immediately take control of the parks and garages. Members of the committee will be key stakeholders in the sector.
“The Government’s position is premised on its responsibility to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order in all parks and garages in Lagos State.”
The PUNCH had reported that the national body of the union on Thursday suspended its Lagos State chairman, Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo, following weeks of protracted conflict and leadership tussle.
The national body accused Akinsanya of resorting to intimidation, harassment, and assault on the newly-appointed Chairman, Tricycle Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria, Azeez Abiola, aka Istijabah but Akinsanya refuted the claim that he instigated members of the union to assault Abiola.
He, however, noted that the legality of the TOOAN operations in the state is a subject of a suit pending before the National Industrial Court.
Subsequently, the NURTW national body in Abuja on Thursday announced the indefinite suspension of Akinsanya for gross misconduct and directed him to hand over to his deputy.
Hours later, Akinsanya at a press conference at the NURTW Secretariat in the Agege area of the Lagos announced his withdrawal and that of lieutenants from the union.
He also asked Sanwo-Olu to take over the running of all parks and garages in the state till peace returned to the union.
“In view of this and the crisis at hand, Lagos State Government is hereby invited to consider its white paper on Transport Union activities, 2004 section 5C, which states that the Government should take over the management of any garage or motor park where there is a crisis until such is resolved by the consultative committee.
We hereby call on Lagos State Government to take over the running of the affairs of the Union with the Constitution of a Park Management Committee for Motor Garages and parks in the state, thereby ensuring peace and tranquility, pending the determination of the matter in the interest of the good people of Lagos State,” Akinsanya said earlier on Thursday.
The operations of the NURTW have been despised for years by Lagosians and social commentators. Clad in grimy white tops and green trousers, NURTW operatives locally called agberos are notorious for harassing, intimidating and forcibly collecting levies from commercial bus drivers at parks, garages and bus stops, leading to occasional fights, indecent of the ‘megacity’ aspiration of Lagos.
According to a 2021 report by the International Centre for Investigative Report, the Lagos chapter of NURTW generates about N123.08bn annually, which could service the annual budget of Nasarawa, Niger, and Yobe states put together.
Aside from other extortioners on Lagos roads including corrupt security agents, NURTW operatives are the bane of commercial drivers, with many transporters lamenting that they milk them dry by collecting tolls at every bus stop.