Restriction: Riders, commuters bemoan police excesses

A commercial motorcyclist and a female passenger almost lost their lives when policemen attempted to arrest the rider on ACME Road, Ogba, Lagos. The policemen were said to be enforcing the restriction on tricycle operations on ACME Road by the Commissioner of Transportation, Mr Kayode Olaifa. The passenger, who gave her name as Mrs Cynthia, said the policemen tried to grab the motorcyclist at ACME junction on Lateef Kayode Jakande Road, Agidingbi.

According to her, the motorcycle summersaulted in the middle of the road while the rider was trying to evade arrest. Cynthia said that but for divine intervention, the vehicle coming behind would have crushed her and the rider to death. She was, however, thankful that she only sustained injury while blood was running down her hand and clothes.

The incident happened at exactly 5:30pm on Thursday as passers-by, commuters and sympathisers gathered at the scene. When our correspondents got to the scene, some of the policemen wearing mufti, stood at the bus stop, pretending to commuters. But those in uniform sat in their van.

Cynthia narrated how she and the motorcycle rider were brutalised and left with open wounds in the middle of the ever-busy road. She said: “It is only the Almighty God who I serve that saved me from death this afternoon. I was badly in jured after I fell off the motorcycle. A policeman, who was not wearing uniform, tried to arrest the motorcycle while it was on motion. It was a terrible experience.”

The woman described the directive restricting tricycle riders from ACME route as “partial and wicked”. “How do they expect traders to transport their goods? How do they want the riders to feed their families? It is unfair,” she added.

The motorcyclist, Mr Michael Ede, whose motorcycle was seized by the policemen after he escaped with his bleeding legs, said he was tired of life. Ede said that after the sudden order that tricycle riders should not operate on ACME Road, he became tired of watching his wife and children go hungry, without being able to provide for them.

On that fateful Thursday, after waiting till sundown, he said he decided to bring out his motorcycle to make some money, just to feed that night. Ede reasoned that since it was sundown, policemen would have left the roads, but he was mistaken.

He said: “Lagos is now hell to live in. My motorcycle has been seized. How do they want me to feed my family and pay my children’s tuition fees? “The policemen were not even in uniform. So how do I know if they were police or not? My legs were badly injured when I and my passenger fell off the motorcycle. The policemen did not even care if we are going to lose our lives.” A witness, Bisi Odukoya, said that the policemen had been arresting tricycle and motorcycle riders since 3:30pm that afternoon.

She said: “A policeman, who was not wearing uniform, arrested a man who appealed on behalf of the injured people.” The names of some of the officers present at the scene were: Ezemou Abiodun and Ayodele Makinde. Commuters pleaded with the state government, to re-instate the movement of tricycles and motorcycles on ACME Road. Similarly, tricycle operators at Estate Unit, Alapere Ketu area of the state, have also implored the government to look into their case.

According to them, most money they make goes into paying different levies. These levies were imposed on them by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). Mr Peter Adoka, a tricycle rider, accused the chairman of cheating them every time. He said: “Without a ticket, we can’t work.

The NURTW has increased the amount of the ticket from N650 to N850 every day. The tickets are compulsory and how much are we really making anyway? “The chairman also makes it compulsory for tricycle operators to contribute money for end of the year party. If we refuse to pay, they beat us up and seize our tricycles. Policemen are the major problem we encounter because they gave an instruction that we should not start work until 4pm and when it is 10pm, we are supposed to stop work for the day.”

Adoka added that any tricycle operator found working before 4pm or after 10pm, would be made to pay N2,500 fine.

Another operator, Mr Bamiro Bola, said he was thinking of leaving the job since the money paid to the police, the chairman and NURTW was more than the profits they made daily. He said: “The cost of fuel in a day is always more than the gain.

The policemen are not even helping matters. They give us too much trouble. In other tricycle units, police there permit them to work till midnight. But in our own unit, it is different.
“Local government should be in charge of collecting money from us, not NURTW. If it is local government officials, we pay less.” Mr Uche Ike, who corroborated the views expressed by colleagues, said he was still rider because he still made a little profit to take home. “The police are one of our major challenges here. They are frustrating us. 

They instructed us not to work at will, saying we use our tricycles to steal from people. This is not true. “It is not possible for us to steal with tricycles. It is only possible to steal with motorcycles not tricycles.”

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