LASTMA arrests over 100 vehicles for violating social distancing order - The Gallant News


Wednesday, 25 August 2021

LASTMA arrests over 100 vehicles for violating social distancing order

 LASTMA arrests over 100 vehicles for violating social distancing order

Commercial activities were disrupted for the better part of yesterday at Cele, Iyana-Isolo and Toyota bus stops on the Oshodi/Apapa expressway and on the Mile-Two /Badagry expressway, following protest by transporters over alleged extortion and high handedness by officials of the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Task Force) and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA.

The protesters took over the busy expressways, displaying placards and set up bonfires on the expressway inward Oshodi, preventing commercial motorcyclists and tricycle operators from conveying passengers.

Their colleagues, who were oblivious of the protests, had their windscreens shattered, with passengers ordered to alight from the vehicles.

They chanted “No more task force,” displaying placards with inscriptions such as “End LASTMA brutality”, “End Task Force wahala”, “End LASTMA blocking, blocking with Task Force”, “End Task Force in Lagos State.”

They alleged that Task Force officials routinely and indiscriminately seized their vehicles and were forced to pay huge amount before they would release them.

A bus driver, who gave his name as Sefiu, alleged that LASTMA officials impounded two of his vehicles without any justification.

He said: “I paid N55,000 to recover one of them. They are always harassing us. The road we ply to the airport has been blocked for repairs, yet when we take alternative routes they will claim it is one-way and they’ll arrest us.”

Another protester, who identified himself simply as Kingsley, said: “Their wahala is too much. We want Governor Babajide (Sanwo-Olu) to help us.”

Chibuike, who identified himself as a bus driver and member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, also accused the officials of extortion. He urged the state government to intervene.

On his part, Mukaila, who claimed he recently paid N22,500 to get his bus back, said: “If we argue with them, they would beat us up and tear-gas us. We are tired. Do they want us to start stealing and be carrying guns? We are tired of their extortion, and constant harassment.”

Another driver, Opeyemi, said he was also protesting because a vehicle he got on hire purchase barely two months ago was impounded by the Task Force officials.

He said: “I paid N250,000 to get the vehicle back on Monday

Opeyemi also alleged that three commercial drivers were killed on Sunday at the Cele Bus stop.

At the Cele bus stop, a commercial bus driver and a commercial motorcyclist sustained deep cuts in the process.

Hoodlums, who hijacked the situation, attacked anyone at sight. They dispossessed helpless commuters of cash, telephones, handbags and other valuables.

At the scene, shattered windscreens littered the ground while the stranded commuters were seen running away from the hoodlums. 

A similar protest occurred last week at Iyana-Oba, Idimu, Igando, down to Iyana Ipaja.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Task Force), said it had arrested 16 miscreants suspected to have masterminded the violence and attack on commuters in Cele and Iyana Isolo bus stops.

The miscreants, according to a statement by the task force, capitalised on the peaceful no work protest embarked upon by drivers of commercial buses on Oshodi-Mile 12 Expressway to unleash mayhem on commuters.

The statement signed by its Head, Public Affairs Unit, Mr Femi Moliki, read: “The hoodlums were caught molesting passers-by and destroying public facilities. Machetes, charms, cudgels and other harmful weapons were recovered from them.

“The Chairman of the Lagos State Task Force, CSP Shola Jejeloye, who was in the area to maintain law and order as well as listen to some of the aggrieved protesters, called for calm that government would address their grievances.

“He added that no official of Lagos State Task Force operates between Toyota and Mile 2, adding that the agency is presently rejigging its operation to prevent reported incidences of illegal task force operatives in the metropolis.

“He said he had listened to all complaints against the officials of the agency, noting that genuine complaints would be addressed.

“It was learned that the drivers decided to protest the installation of signage on roads that used to serve as bi-directional ways as One-way.”

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