One Shot, Scores Injured as Truck Drivers, NURTW Clash in Apapa

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Eromosele Abiodun

The unending traffic gridlock in Apapa, Lagos State, reached a new level Thursday when a yet-to-be-identified truck driver was shot around Tin Can Island Port as hoodlums allegedly attacked truck drivers around Coconut bus stop on Apapa road.

Also, scores of people who were attacked with machetes, including members of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), were rushed to the hospital with fears that fatalities would arise from the incident.

Eye witnesses told THISDAY that the crisis started when truck drivers were not allowed to pass through Ajegunle axis to access the Apapa-Oshodi expressway as a result of the bad state of the road by street urchins otherwise known as ‘area boys’.

When contacted on telephone, the Chairman of the dry cargo section of NARTO, Innua Mohammed, confirmed the development, revealing that the crisis started last Wednesday night when the truck drivers were attacked by some hoodlums.

He alleged that the hoodlums who were members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) had attacked the drivers last Wednesday night because of what he described as a ‘minor disagreement’.

According to Mohammed, “At night, these ‘area boys’ mobilised themselves with police escorts from Trinity Police Station, and attacked some of the drivers who were sleeping in their trucks with gun and machetes, while their trucks were also destroyed as they wanted to start burning some trucks. Apart from the driver whom they shot with their locally made pistol, several others were attacked with machetes.”

One of the truck drivers, who did not want his name in print, told THISDAY that the ‘area boys’ were annoyed that trucks were hindering free movement of their buses coming out from Ajegunle area.

He alleged that the ‘area boys’ got help from LASTMA officials and blocked the main expressway coming out from Tin Can Port, in other to give way for buses coming out from Ajegunle

“We were in the truck; we didn’t even know what was going on, and all of a sudden, we saw the ‘area boys’ coming out and attacking us with machetes and guns. I personally took three people to the hospital. My conductor, who is currently at the hospital, had 18 bullets extracted from his body.”

“While the boys, who were escorted by police, were shooting guns, the police were shooting teargas. These ‘area boys’ are members of NURTW, and the excuse they gave was that their trucks were not having access to move freely,” he said.

He alleged that the hoodlums extorted as much as N80,000 from trucks moving through Ajegunle area in order to beat traffic.

Inuwa also told THISDAY that, however, the truckers regrouped for a reprisal yesterday morning as a result of the damages they suffered last Wednesday night, a situation which further aggravated the crisis.

He, however, told THISDAY that normalcy had since returned to the area as the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Team has intervened in the matter.

When THISDAY visited the scene of the crisis, there was calm as the commercial bus drivers were going about their businesses.

No other fatality has been reported as at the time of filing this report.