Commuters stranded in Lagos, as ‘Danfo’ drivers withdraw services over extortion by task force officials
Posted by News Express | 17 August 2021 | 480 times
By OLASUNKANMI AKONI, Lagos
Several commuters had to trek long distances to their destinations in the early hours of Tuesday, following protest embarked on by drivers of commercial buses, popularly called Danfo, along Iyana-Ipaja, Ikotun Road and environs in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State, over alleged extortion by men of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences Unit (Task Force).
Recall that there was a similar situation last year, precisely September 1, 2020, when commuters were left stranded.
The current situation also left commuters stranded as the drivers withdrew their buses from operating, forcing commuters to resort to trekking, while recalcitrant drivers were prevented from operating by transport union members.
Meanwhile, commercial tricycle operators and motorcyclists, popularly called Keke Marwa and Okoda, respectively, seized the opportunity to make brisk business, hiking the transport fares because of the large number of passengers at bus stops.
The Danfo drivers were protesting alleged daily seizure of their buses and extortion by officials of Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences Unit (Task Force) over frivolous traffic rules violation.
This development, as early as 6.30am, led to a chaotic situation in the axis, as workers and other commuters were seen trekking due to the scarcity of buses.
Some of the commuters, who spoke with Vanguard, along Idimu-Ikotun Road expressed solidarity with the striking commercial drivers, calling on the state government to intervene by calling the task force to order immediately.
Speaking with Vanguard, one of the protesting drivers, Kayode Oloye, stated that “we decided to withdraw our services today to protest the illegal activities as well as bring it to the notice of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and relevant authorities so that they can call the task force men to order.
“Enough is enough; we can’t take the nonsense anymore. The economy is unfavourable to everyone.
“We are struggling to feed our families and not feed government or task force men under the pretext of committing one tragic offence or the other.
“We work hard to earn our living. We are not armed robbers. That is why we are doing legitimate work. Or they want us to take to do robbery?”
Some of the protesting commercial drivers were seen in groups discussing the development amid heavy drinking of alcohol.
However, reacting to the development, Chairman, Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences Unit (Task Force), Chief Superintendent of Police, Sola Jejeloye, denied any knowledge of any extortion by his men.
He said: “I urge anyone with evidence of extortion against task force men to come forward and I assure them of prompt action against such errant officers as deterrence.”
Jejeloye, however, did not rule out activities of some fake and unscrupulous individuals who pose as task force men to extort innocent citizens.
“We have arrested some of them in the past and we have strengthened our surveillance to arrest those still in the act to bring them to book.
“I, hereby, appeal to residents and protesting commercial drivers to give peace a chance as everything will be fine to address this once and for all.”
Meanwhile, the task force boss is billed to address a stakeholders’ meeting later in the afternoon, comprising of transport union leaders at the Oshodi Head Office of the agency in order to find a lasting solution to the menace and other sundry issues as it relates to transportation in the state for ease of movement. (Vanguard)