MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
The much exerted efforts of the Lagos State Environmental Task Force officials to checkmate the activities of commercial motorcylists on prohibited routes in Lagos metropolis would continue to be a wasted effort until the State Government bans the sales and registration of new motorcycles in Lagos.
This was the feeling of some senior police officers who spoke to AtlanticNewsonline on anonymous basis during an investigation conducted this week.
In some major roads in the city like Oshodi – Apapa Expressway, commercial motorcylists audaciously ply their trade in such axis like Cele, Ijesha, Second Rainbow, Tin Can, Apapa Ports with impunity. They do not bath an eyelid whether there is any extant law prohibiting their action and hundreds of newly acquired motor cycles and their riders are joining in the race on daily basis.
At Second Rainbow (Amuwo Odofin) area, the motorcylists have literarily taken over the entire expressway making it difficult for other road users to navigate. Many of the riders who are of Northern extraction in spite of the illegality of plying prohibited routes, often risk the danger of driving one way at such break neck speed that defies any reasonable explanation.
Though the Environmental Task Force headed by Olusola Jejeloye; a Chief Superintendent of Police has been doing its best to stem the tide of constant breach of the law prohibiting commercial motorcycles on certain routes, yet the riders are hell bent on having their way.
From investigation, some anonymous sources told AtlanticNewsonline that the motorcylists make daily cash returns to some senior police officers who covertly give them backing and obviously make it difficult for men of the Taskforce to nip the illegality in the bud in spite of several seizures of hundreds of motorcycles in the past.
Some senior police officers in Mushin area said that insofar as the Lagos State Government continues to allow motorcycle dealers to operate in the state and the State Vehicle Licensing Office to generate income through registration of such motorcycles for commercial use, the menace of riders on prohibited routes would continue and there is not much the Taskforce can do because the more they seize, the more new commercial motorcycles are on the roads.
They also asserted that the rate of criminality by those who operate such motor cycles would not abate as their number is increasing with the number of new machines on the road.
Some of the interviewees also blamed the Lagos State Government for allowing touts to have free reign at bus stops like Oshodi especially on the long bridge where scores of mean looking touts pursue moving commercial vehicles to collect illegal levies from the drivers and their conductors.
At Oshodi, the touts who audaciously and ferociously charge at drivers to part with cash (owo da!) without being mindful of the illegality of their actions are said to be agents of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) with the backing of some faceless police officers.
Approved park levies ought to be collected at designated motor parks but the touts and those they represent care less about it and whether a commercial vehicle picks a passenger or not at any bus stop where the touts are positioned, it is immaterial.
Often times, some drivers and their conductors who chose to resist the touts’ attempt to extort money from them have ended up being injured and have their vehicle vandalised, occasionally in the presence of LASTMA and police traffic officials, a good number of whom are suspected to be in conspiracy with the touts.
Checkmating the activities of such dare-devil touts, investigation revealed, is quite an up-hill task as many Lagos residents know them as political thugs often used by politicians during elections.