BY AYODELE ADEDAMOLA
Drivers in Lagos have complained about “the excessiveness of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) saying that it needed to be called to order.
The transporters who spoke to our reporter in separate interviews, complained that LASTMA operatives have abandoned their primary duty of ensuring sanity on the highways, and have resorted to fulfilling selfish agendas, like extorting motorists.
Ismail Balogun a driver, said the operatives of LASTMA have formed the habit of always arresting transporters especially Danfo drivers for no just cause.
He cited an instance when at about 10pm, a man in mufti purporting to be of LASTMA accosted him alleging that he packed his vehicle on the express.
“Ï begged and begged, but he would not hear, and ended up collecting #10,000 from me before he released me. Although all of them are not the same but majority of them are wicked and they don’t have human sympathy at all”.
Another respondent, James Agua, who conducts a bus, described LASTMA operatives as causing problem in Lagos state, adding that they do frustrated him until he was forced to sell his vehicle.
“ Sometimes when you stop at Aguda, they would say there is no bus stop there. They have collected N40,000 from me twice, which made me to sell my bus. I used to be a driver but I am now a conductor all because of LASTMA”.
Speaking in the same vein, another driver, Adewunmi Femi told our reporter that what LASTMA was doing on the highways was illegal.
Adewunmi said they just enter into people’s buses and drive them to their office, where they end up extorting them to the tune of about N10, 000.
He said usually, their accusation is that the drivers stay too long at the bus stop, even when such was not the case.
Another driver who did not want his name in print, said there was no doubt that those traffic officials of the agency were actually making money for themselves, rather working for the government.
“ If they arrest a bus they will collect at least #15,000 from driver. Though it is not all of them that are like that, but majority of them are”, he said.
According to Femi Oguniga, a drive, the LASTMA officials are doing their job, although they sometimes show excessiveness they way they treat drivers.
“Governor Ambode said LASEMA should roll vehicles for free but LASTMA would not do that because of the money they want to put in their pocket.
This money they are collecting from us is affecting the maintenance of our vehicles. Well, I don’t blame them; Ambode has given them instruction to make money for him before he hands over government to Sanwo-olu”.
Another drive, Seun Ahmed, saidLASTMA was a problem to commercial drivers, in that they do not bother about the driver’s feelings when they stand on the highways.
“One day I carried one MOPOL and he asked me to drop him at a place almost close to Oluyole along Ojota but I told him there was no bus stop there. He sprang up and slapped me but there was nothing I could do but to stop him. Unfortunately these wicked people saw me when I packed there and took down my plate number.
“After three days they saw me and told me they have been searching for me; I was told I packed at one illegal bustop ,I tried to explain but they refused until I gave them some money”..