By Fred Iwenjora
Since Wednesday 12, September, 2017 when the Lagos state Government bannedinterstate transport companies from operating on Ikorodu road ordering them to seek refuge at Ojota and Ojodu Berger parks, life has been very low and slow for transport workers and indeed most of those who have made their living from that arena for years including traders and hawkers.
Passengers continue to stream into Jibowu daily for the trips that never would embark from there.
Saturday Vanguard monitored activities at the area for the past one week and found a desolate former transport hub with travellers who might not have heard of the ban carrying their luggage about in shocking confusion.
Idle loaders and workers who otherwise would have met their economic needs for the day as was case before the ban could also be seen milling from one garage to the other chatting away their sorrow. Some sat down forlornly.
There were about six Toyota Hilux Trucks which had offloaded battle ready and stern looking Mobile Policemen who were stationed at the gates of almost all the companies to check disobedience to the order. They were there till the weekend, eased up on Monday but returned in full force about 4 pm Wednesday, exactly one week after the pronouncement of the ban and end of ultimatum. Lagos state red cordon chains were hoisted at GUO, Cross Country and Ifesinachi.
Notable was Chisco office whose gates were chained completely in a different way. A Hilux van had its men stationed in front of the locked down gates. A LASTMA, car as well as BRT monitoring truck were on hand after all they had sparked the raging ‘fire’. As at Thursday evening, it was gathered that a meeting took place between representatives of the transport companies and Lagos state government. The outcome of that meeting was not known as at the time of writing this.
GENESIS OF THE PROBLEM
Sources at the center of the storm revealed that a reversing vehicle owned by Chisco Transport had accidentally hit the luxury blue colored demarcation gauge, now becoming the Lagos trade mark. The news had flown to Alausa in a jiffy about the close of work and got a livid Governor Ambode who had vowed to leave Lagos cleaner than he met it to storm the scene.
He was said to have driven to the area with some members of his exco in tow to see things for himself. It was there that the executive order emanated from and is currently being implemented to the very letter by law enforcement officers. To underscore the importance of the order, Governor Ambode paid daily unscheduled visits to Jibowu in the last week
Narrating the ordeal of the transport companies and their huge losses since the ban, Victor the Regional Manager of Peace Mass Transit which just a few months ago berthed at Jibowu with an ultra modern garage complex described the day of siege as unforgettable and the one week inactivity as frustrating.
“The past one week has been a hell” he quips. “Everyone is roasting here because the means of livelihood has been truncated. You could imagine the huge investment on this place here at Ikorodu road and then consider this closure for business after a few months in operation. It is killing as salaries may not come easy.
Is it not when the business runs that salaries are paid? I would want to plead with Governor Ambode to reconsider his decision on us. Our new garage does not give room for indecency. All our boarding activity is done within the confines of our complex and we abide by all government regulations”
Also speaking, assistant manager at Okeyson Transport who only gave his name as John but warned from the onset of the interview that he would not disclose his surname or have his photo taken by any journalist said the past one week has been harrowing with loads of uncertainty. According to John “the way the police and LASTMA officials came to deal with us was brutal. They quickly stormed the compound and locked us inside asking whether we had not heard of the ban on use of Ikorodu road by interstate transport companies.
They barred us from boarding and discharging our passengers and towed away the vehicle. We begged them on the release of the vehicle but they insisted on taking it to Alausa, Ikeja. They later collected the sum of twenty thousand naira and released the vehicle to us at Anthony. We have not boarded any vehicles since the trouble started and it is no longer a joke. Harship has really set in.”
In his own submission, Tolu Akintola who is Branch Manager of Cross Country revealed that the past one week had been “anxious moments for me, my company and all staff. I cannot describe what happened on that day. For a police van to park in your compound facing you with angry looking well armed police men breathing hard on you is not a child’s play.
Our dear loyal passengers are now redirected to other branches. It would be my wish that Governor Ambode, the hard working governor of Lagos state looks into this matter again to see the main culprits who don’t seem to be registered and have no garage and check their activities rather than subsuming all of us into same basket of sin”
Mr. Solution Ogom, proprietor of Solution Restaurant and Bar also lamented the low patronage at his bar at Jibowu. According to him, the ban of interstate transport companies at Jibowu “has killed my business”. He added: “We relied on the very busy activities of travellers for patronage and this has died since the past week because of this ban”.
The Lagos State action on Jibowu has produced mixed reactions. As the transporters are crying blue murder there also those who believe that the ban will bring sanity to the area going by the traffic their activities cause in the area. And that’s why some argue that the ban should have affected only those who did not have garages and lounges for their vehicles and passengers.
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