In the early hours of Wednesday, commuters were stranded in several parts of Lagos State as commercial bus drivers protested against exorbitant fees being collected by officials of the Lagos State Park and Gardens Management Committee headed by Musiliu Akinsanya popularly known as MC Oluomo.
The protest, which started at the Toll Gate end of the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, later spread to other parts of Lagos State.
Lagosians were seen trekking long distances to their various destinations as bus drivers refused to operate, citing extortions and alleged brutality by the state-backed officials.
The bus drivers and their assistants who were seen carrying various placards protesting against the alleged extortion had inscriptions such as, “we are tired of Agberos’ extortion”, “we can’t continue working for Agberos”, “we pay over N25,000 daily to Agberos extortion”, “Extortion killing us,” among others.
Musiliu Onafowokan, a driver, said extortions by the thugs were killing drivers in Lagos as their profit margin was being eroded on a daily basis.
Onafowokan said, “As drivers, we can’t meet daily responsibilities anymore, we pay so much to Agberos on a daily basis and we can’t make ends meet again. We can’t meet our responsibilities at home as well.
“Our children can’t go to school anymore; we are working for the Agberos. They destroy our vehicles if we don’t pay on time, it’s better for the government to do something about it so fast because we won’t stop protesting until something is done.”
Another driver, identified as Sikiru Mustapha urged the government of Lagos State to stop the extortion of drivers in the state.
He said the activities of Agberos led by Musiliu Akinsanya known as MC Oluomo should be called to order.
His words, “The burden on us is too much. We pay through our nose on a daily basis. If the government refuses to see to this hardship, we won’t stop protesting. They use their touts to disturb us, they threaten our investment, we are at their mercy on a daily basis.
“They collect money from us from all bus-stops. The suffering is too much, we can’t continue like this. We can’t be working and be living like beggars.”
READ ALSO: I Will Not Squander The Honour Of A Lifetime – Tinubu Vows
Bimbo Apata, who works at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, said he had spent over two hours at the bus-stop waiting to get a bus, but all proved abortive.
He said that he had no choice but to resort to trekking to get to the office on time.
“The suffering was too much. People had to trek several distances because they could not get buses to their various destinations,” Apata said.
He appealed to the Lagos State government to urgently address the protest before it turned violence and led to loss of innocent lives.
A trader at Oshodi Market, Mrs Ajegunle, who went to Abeokuta to buy goods that she sells, said on getting to the Toll-Gate area, the protesters asked the driver of the bus she boarded to drop all passengers.
“We were all stranded because we couldn’t go back and move forward.
“Many of us, especially those without any heavy luggage, started trekking to our destinations,” she said.
Ajegunle called on the authorities concerned to make concerted efforts to resolve the crisis so that peace could be restored along the vicinity.
Sule Sanni, one of the protesters, said they would continue with the protest until the government addressed the issue of ‘agberos’ extortion by touts and alleged maltreatment of its members.
He explained that they paid between N10,000 to N15,000 every day to the union, adding that the development was indirectly affecting them negatively.
“Our profit margin is being eroded on a daily basis as they collect money from us at all the bus-stops,” he said.