Shuttle Bus Drivers Protest Alleged Extortion by Lagos Task Force

Rebecca Ejifoma

Commuters  from Agbara axis to Igbolerin, Okoko through to Iyana-Oba route along the Badagry Express road in Lagos State, were yesterday stranded as some commercial drivers protested alleged extortion by officials of the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit known as Taskforce.

The drivers carried placards with various inscriptions, ‘End task force wahala’, and ‘End task force in Lagos State.’ They obstructed the free flow of commercial vehicles and trucks, causing gridlock from 8am.

The Chairman of Ojo Chapter Shuttle Bus Drivers Association, Richard Adeboyega, told newsmen that because the road is under construction, they had a turn at Afro junction, another at Okoko before now.

“But the construction company has blocked the junction where we make a turn. Drivers, who ply from Agbara to Igbolerin/First Gate, now have to drive to Ojo Barracks before they can find a turn and drive back.

“When they take one-way, officials of  the Taskforce impound our members’ buses. Our members pay between N100,000 and  N150,000 to recover our vehicles when impounded,” he explained.

Adeboyega also bemoaned that the officials collect cash, and don’t issue receipts. “We are calling on the government to intervene. The construction company should open the middle lane to enable drivers to connect to the turn at Igbolerin,” he said.

While pleading that the Taskforce should stop extorting them till the construction is done, the Vice Chairman of the Association, Chibuzor Nwabueze, lamented the number of vehicles confiscated.

“They have impounded 15 vehicles today which they have taken to their office at Alausa behind Shoprite. Last week, they impounded over 30 vehicles,” Nwabueze said.

According to him, officials of the Taskforce are extorting them. Their tales of woe started after Afro bus-stop was barricaded as a result of the construction without an alternative route.

He pleaded: “The government should come to our aid. The construction company should create an alternative for transporters. People living around are suffering too much because of the unending construction.”

Thirty-four years old bus driver, one Michael, said his vehicle was seized last week. “I paid N120,000. I was driving towards Igboelerin when they impounded my bus. There were more than 30 of us whose buses were impounded.

“They asked me to come to their office at Oshodi, the sad thing is that they send their agents to collect the money on their behalf, they accept only cash.

“After which they gave me a written note with my plate number and signature to take to Alausa where they released my vehicle to me. They didn’t give me any receipts. They had to replace my battery from another impounded bus,” he decried.

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