FOLLOWING the violence that led to the death of a leader of Motorcycle Operators’ Association of Lagos State (MOALS) in Oshodi, Alhaji Rasaq Bello popularly known as Hamburger, Lagos State government on Monday suspended activities of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in all the seven branches in the area indefinitely.
According to the state government, the affected branches are LOB A, LOB D, LOB J, Oshodi A, Oshodi B, Oshodi C and Oshodi D.
The state government made the pronouncement, in a news conference it jointly addressed with the police and NURTW at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, saying while the suspension order lasts, there would be no collection of tickets/fees from commuter buses operating in the area.
The State’s Acting Commissioner for Transportation, Prince Olanrewaju Elegushi, said throughout the duration of the suspension order, a team of state government officials and security personnel would be mandated to oversee and monitor the transport operations within the affected branches to ensure they do not collect any ticket or fees from transport operators.
He said the suspension order was taken after due consultation with all the relevant stakeholders concerning the crisis, adding the order would remain in force until peace and tranquility returned to the area as lifting of the ban would only be based on appropriate security reports.
“For the avoidance of doubt, police investigations are ongoing on the said death and all persons found culpable will be prosecuted in line with the dictates of the laws.
“It is important to also emphasis that all rumour mongering, insinuations and unfounded/unverified facts should be avoided for the sake of peaceful co-existence.
“Any escalation of the crisis arising from the ban will lead to government taking sterner actions against the branches where violence is recorded,” Elegushi threatened.
The commissioner said as part of the strategies to permanently address incessant crisis arising from activities of transport unions in the state, the state government had already put in place the Bus Reform Initiative (BRI) through which 5,000 air-conditioned and convenient buses would be injected into the transport sector, adding that the initiative would soon be launched.
Also speaking, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations in the state, Mr Imohimi Edgal, confirmed that some arrests had been made following the crisis and that investigation had started in respect of the violence.
He assured that anyone found culpable in the crisis would be prosecuted in accordance with the law, and that the state government, in partnership with the police and other relevant stakeholders, were working towards a lasting peace.
Edgal added that the report of the preliminary investigation by the police would be out before the end of the week.
On his part, Lagos State Chairman of NURTW, Alhaji Tajudeen Agbede, said the branch was in support of the decision of government to suspend all union activities in Oshodi indefinitely, saying that the union was adequately consulted before the action was taken.
“I like to confirm that the decision of the state government to suspend union activities in Oshodi was supported by us. We also want a lasting peace in Oshodi and we know that with this decision, people can go about their duties without let or hindrance.
“I am sure if the union had handled the issue of Oshodi, we would have arrived at the same decision to suspend activities for now and I want to urge our members to cooperate with government in its bid to ensure lasting peace.
“Going forward, we have been educating our members on the need to eschew violence and we still want to reiterate it that anyone caught perpetrating violence would be dealt with in accordance with the law,” Agbede said.