Pandemonium broke out on Wednesday during a clash between officials of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Enforcement Agency and transport workers in the Abule-Egba and Agege areas of the state.
We gathered that the transport workers were protesting the rumoured death of a yet-to-be-identified motor boy, who reportedly fell to the ground while the task force personnel were chasing after the driver of a commercial bus for allegedly violating the traffic rule.
It was learnt that the driver, while conveying passengers to a destination in the state, allegedly drove against the traffic and upon sighting the task force personnel, made a U-turn and zoomed off to evade arrest.
The motor boy, who fell to the ground, was said to have sustained severe injuries and reportedly became unconscious in the process.
The driver, it was learnt, bolted as the task force officials took the injured motor boy into custody.
An eyewitness, who identified himself simply as Kola, said the motor boy died, adding that the driver, who was angered by the development, mobilised some transport workers to protest the incident.
He said, “Someone was killed in the Agege area. What we gathered was that officials of the task force were chasing a commercial vehicle and in a bid to intercept the driver, the officials used their vehicle to hit the bus and the motor boy fell to the ground and died.
“They took his corpse away in a Black Maria and it was the driver, who went to organise others to protest his death and they clashed with the task force officials at Abule-Egba.”
During the clash, a transport worker, identified simply as Gboye, alleged that the task force also brutalised two of his colleagues and beat a motor boy to a pulp.
He stated, “We were outside this morning when we suddenly saw officials of the task force chasing an LT bus and when they intercepted it, they dragged the driver down and beat him mercilessly. While beating the driver, the motor boy was also brutally assaulted and he collapsed on the road. The passengers had to run away as the officials impounded the vehicle, but some courageous people carried the motor boy off the road.
“It was during this incident that the protesting transport workers from Agege got to the Abule-Egba area and the clash happened between them and the task force officials. But the officials were able to pin one of the transport workers down and started dealing machete blows on him. He was also taken away in a Black Maria.”
Hundreds of commuters were stranded on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway as commercial bus drivers stopped operations during the protest.
The clash, which had a ripple effect on commercial motorists in the area, made commuters to resort to trekking to their various destinations.
A commuter, Lanre Obabiyi, told one of our correspondents that he heard gunshots during the clash, adding that he later trekked from the Abule-Taylor bus stop to his destination in Meiran.
Another commuter, Esther Bajulaye, said, “I have been trekking from Abule-Egba and I am still going to the Sango tollgate. This is causing unbearable pain and discomfort for commuters. The task force and the drivers should sort out whatever issues they have.”
A transport worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the task force officials usually extort commercial motorist after arresting and impounding their vehicles, adding that their operations in the area had been threatening their source of livelihood.
In a telephone conversation with the Chairman of the task force, Yinka Egbeyemi, he confirmed the incident but denied that his men gunned down any of the hoodlums.
“Some hoodlums came in three buses to attack some of our men and we faced them. We have also arrested them and they are in our custody,” Egbeyemi said.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said there was no loss of life during the incident, adding that the motor boy, who was rumoured to be dead, was responding to treatment in hospital.
Elkana stated, “Nobody died; we have seen no corpse; it is just a rumour. From the brief I got, the motor boy is alive and responding to treatment in hospital. The motorist drove against the traffic and the task force officials, who were on enforcement duty, wanted to apprehend him, but turned his vehicle and drove off to escape.
“While driving away, the door of the bus pulled out and the motor boy, who hung on it, fell. He was injured and the police eventually took him to a nearby hospital. The boy is alive and not dead. Although there was a rumour that he and driver were killed, it was the driver who brought thugs after he escaped arrest.
“The thugs came in three vehicles and we sent reinforcement from the division and overpowered them. We impounded the three vehicles and arrested five suspects. Normalcy has been restored in the area.”