Mounting Unprovoked Attack On LASTMA Officials —Francis Abayomi


Series of unprovoked, organised violent attacks have recently been unleashed on officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, by some groups of commuter vehicle operators who are bent on sabotaging the renewed commitment of the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation to ensure proper compliance with rules and regulations for free-flow of traffic and safety of commuters across the Lagos metropolis. The last few days have witnessed unjustifiable violent attacks by a group of hostile private commuter bus operators who are evidently determined to foment chaos in Lagos State.

Following several meetings, consultations and notices, the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation on 6 September, 2011 issued a 14-day ultimatum to all operators of unpainted commuter buses (Danfo and Vanagon) to comply with the approved specification of Yellow with Black stripes colour which is the lawful standard for commuter buses in the Lagos State.

The directive became necessary to ensure safety and to further stimulate unimpeded traffic across the state. Competent sources at the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation and LASTMA, confirmed that the directive to enforce uniform identity for private commuter vehicles became pertinent following the spate of deliberate and lawless violation of traffic rules by operators of unpainted commuter bus operators.

According to LASTMA, operators of unpainted commuter buses are particularly notorious for flouting relevant traffic rules with reckless abandon.

According to the sources, efforts by LASTMA at ensuring free-flow of traffic have been seriously hindered by flagrant disregard for directives of the traffic management authorities as well as penchant for disobedience and flouting of traffic rules and regulations by operators of unpainted commuter buses. It is noted that these operators flagrantly engage in illegal parking, picking and dropping of passengers at unauthorised bus stops, driving on the kerbs, medians, walkways, BRT corridors; driving against traffic (one-way); and making unauthorised U-turns and obstructions of traffic. In addition, it is also believed that unpainted commuter buses were susceptible to nefarious activities across the state.

It was therefore against the backdrop of the counter-productive effects of the activities of unpainted commuter bus operators and the implied negative influence on other commuter bus operators in the state, that the Ministry of Transportation in conjunction with LASTMA decided to enforce uniform identity for all commuter buses once and for all. Consequently, by the ultimatum of September 6th, 2011, it was directed that operators of the following unpainted commuter buses with inscriptions: gallant mopol, disabled sport, competent handicap, Awua, Ahua, Awol, Bebeto 777, Fish, Eagle, Akala, Jatto, ponpawly, kk, mob, hotwater, sail navy ade, Ken 1, law, super, Agbalaya, odca, de, nans, action mobilisation, lasusu, student union, LASPOTECH and SUG should paint their vehicles in the approved specification of Yellow with Black stripes colour. These categories of commuter bus operators were also directed to restrict transport activities to locations designated for their operation by the Ministry of Transport.

However, in tune with the policy of the Lagos State government to engage all sectors and parties in constructive consultations for good governance, it was learnt that the Commissioner for Transportation, Hon. Kayode Opeifa granted audience to a group of operators of unpainted commuter buses otherwise referred to as ‘disabled’ and ‘handicapped’ persons in transport business in his office at Alausa. At the said meeting, the intention and purposes of the directive were further enunciated by the Commissioner who applauded physically challenged Nigerians for venturing into transport business.

Hon. Kayode Opeifa assured the transporters at the meeting that Lagos State Government was committed and eager to assist various categories of commuter bus operators in attaining their full business potentials. But the Commissioner, however, insisted that transporters ought to operate in strict compliance with laid down rules and regulations so as to ensure easy and unimpeded flow of traffic which is very crucial for social and economic activities of all Lagosians.

At the meeting, the leader of the ‘disabled’ and ‘handicapped’ persons in transport business, Mr. Patrick Ene was said to have pledged the readiness of operators of unpainted commuter buses to adhere to the directives of the Ministry of Transport by observing traffic rules and regulations and by cooperating with LASTMA in ensuring effective and efficient traffic management in Lagos State.

But rather than honour their pledge, some operators of unpainted commuter buses including the ‘disabled’ and ‘handicapped’ persons involved in transport business took the laws into their hands by invading LASTMA operational Offices; attacking LASTMA officials and vandalizing LASTMA properties.

One of such unprovoked attacks by these unruly commuter bus operators was orchestrated by a gang of about twenty-five armed men who invaded LASTMA Yard Zone II located at Idi-Iroko, Anthony along Ikorodu Expressway on Tuesday, 13 September, 2011.

A number of LASTMA officials were molested and wounded in the attack carried out at about noon which also led to forcible removal of three (3) impounded vehicles with registration numbers: XW 176 EPE; XR 863 LND; and XN 671 AKD by the invaders. LASTMA’s Operation Trooper (18 Echo) attached to Zone II was attacked by the mob that also damaged an operation Motorbike with communication gadget.

Another callous attack instigated by operators of unpainted commuter bus operators was perpetrated on Thursday, 15 September, 2011 at Zone 3 and Zone 15 in Iponri.

On the same day, another group of attackers invaded Zone 1 and 18 in Olowu located in Central Lagos. The incident at Olowu left a LASTMA official, Mr. Wasiu Akintunde battered on the face and almost blinded as a result of the assault by a rampaging armed gang.

Several LASTMA officials also sustained varying degrees of injuries. More worrisome however is confirmation by LASTMA that the unprovoked attack at Olowu was masterminded by operators of unpainted commuter buses that are owned by ‘disabled’ and ‘handicapped’ persons.

However, the General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of LASTMA, Engr. Babatunde Edu has vowed that no amount of intimidation from those who were bent on causing chaos by refusing to comply with traffic rules and regulations could derail LASTMA in its determination to improve traffic situation in Lagos State.

According to Engr. Edu, LASTMA men would remain faithful to the objective of the Lagos State Government in ensuring effective management of traffic situation across the state.

Engr. Edu advised commuter bus operators to comply with the directive, insisting that the Ministry of Transportation and LASTMA would not shy away from enforcing road traffic laws which were meant to improve the traffic situation in Lagos State. Meanwhile, the suspects involved in the attack on LASTMA office in Olowu have been arraigned in the law court.


•Abayomi writes in from Lagos.

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