By Chiemelie Ezeobi
Pandemonium yesterday broke out at Ijesha Bus stop, along the Mile 2-Oshodi Expressway following the death of a tanker driver, who was allegedly crushed to death by a vehicle belonging to the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA).
It was gathered that the tanker driver, one Salisu Sani was intercepted by the LASTMA team, along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, by Ijesha.
Popularly known as Dangwari, the deceased was allegedly knocked down by a LASTMA vehicle.
According to eyewitnesses, the driver tried to evade arrest after he had finished repairing his vehicle that broke down in the middle of the road.
When they caught up with him, they were said to have pulled down the victim out of his vehicle and he was accidentally knocked down by the LASTMA vehicle.
It was learnt that the victim was rushed to AMC Hospital Amuwo Odofin where he died.
Angered by the death of their colleague, other tanker drivers mustered and made bonfires with used tyres and woods in the middle of the road, demanding that those involved in the death of their member be handed over to them.
No sooner had the protest started than some street urchins hijacked it and started harassing other road users-motorists and pedestrians alike.
Also, the protesters were joined by some commercial motorcycle operators, as they came out en mass driving their motorbikes dangerously along the expressway.
In registering their angst against the killing, the protesters demanded the state government to prune down some of the excesses of LASTMA officials.
The protesters, a good number of whom are members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), said they were fed up with the alleged extortion of tanker drivers by LASTMA officials who look for the slightest excuse to penalise them.
One of the protesters, Haruna Abubakar, claimed that LASTMA officials would demanded for as high as N50,000 from tanker drivers whose truck develops fault on the road in Lagos.
He said, “They will swoop down on drivers whose truck breakdown on the road under the guise of providing security but in the actual sense would be waiting to collect money from the victim.
“They will tow the vehicle to their office if the driver fails to give them the money demanded for. At times the LASTMA men will follow the driver to any nearby ATM.
“Often, the owners of the truck in question will send money electronically to their driver so that they can settle the matter before it get out of hand.”
Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmos, a Superintendent of Police, said, “A report was received that a tanker driver was intercepted by a LASTMA team, at Oshodi Apapa Expressway, by Ijesha, inward Mile 2.
“In the process the tanker driver, one Salisu Sani aka “Dangwari” was allegedly knocked down by the LASTMA vehicle. Victim was rushed to AMC Hospital Amuwo Odofin where he died.
“Policemen have been deployed to the vicinity to restore normalcy while all stakeholders are being pacified to prevent further breakdown of law and order.
“Meanwhile efforts are ongoing to clear obstructions and restore normal flow of traffic. Investigation has commenced to unravel what actually transpired.”
However, the spokesman for LASTMA, Mamud Hassan, debunked the allegation adding , “The incident at Apapa has nothing to do with LASTMA. None of our officials was within the vicinity of the scene. The incident has nothing to do with LASTMA officials.”