Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Banned Lagos Motorcycle Operators Protest Despite Warnings, Saying Governor Fashola, After All, Ignores Tobacco Warnings And Still Smokes
An encounter between aggrieved motorcycle operators who converged at the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) headquarters in Lagos on Monday to embark on a protest, and armed policemen who closed road junctions resulted in a ‘no-retreat-no-surrender’ situation which grounded traffic on the Yaba-Ojuelegba road link.
Policemen formed a preventive wall in their armed and hefty presence at the take-off venue of the protest at NLC building, but the determined leadership of the Joint Action Front [JAF] ignored the advice of the police to abort the procession. The police also stationed men at other strategic locations and arrested any person perceived to be headed towards the protest warm-up venue.
In an attempt to stop the protest, they had earlier whisked away four men for sharing leaflets among the gathering crowd. The number of protesters however continued to swell, and the organized movement of JAF began the rally from the NLC building. The police, conscious that the rally would turn huge, as other motorbike operators were reportedly waiting at other road junctions to join in, inched towards leaders of the procession to negotiate peace.
JAF Secretary, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, engaged the police team and suggested among other things that "if Fashola still smokes despite warnings that tobacco smokers are liable to die young; motorbike operators also have a right to continue their operations with provided warnings that bike passengers are liable to be injured in an accident".
As it became apparent that the police team might not be able to handle the growing crowd, the police barricaded the road with one of their vans. Protesters however seized the road and sat on it until several pleas got JAF leadership to lead the protesters back to the NLC building for an invitation to discussion the matter of the ban on motorcycles with State officials.
JAF leadership has insisted that motorbikes must be permitted to return to commercial operations, arguing that if a BRT lane could be dedicated for Lagbus, the same option would work for bikes to operate safely, in opposition to creating mega unemployment in the guise of creating a mega city.