By Ola Ajayi
Ibadan—COMMERCIAL banks in some parts of Ibadan, yesterday, hurriedly shut their gates to prevent invasion by hoodlums who might capitalise on the protest by members of National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, over alleged extortion by their union leaders.
The protest, which started at Sango-Ojoo Road, later spread to other parts of the city, compelling several commuters, including workers in the private and public sectors, to resort to trekking to their places of work.
During the protest, several commercial vehicles were vandalised.
Vanguard gathered that the drivers had long been complaining about excesses of their leaders, who wait at every bus stop to extort outrageous levies.
At the University of Ibadan axis, windscreens of vehicles of some of their colleagues in the union, who did not heed their calls to withdraw their services, were broken and the occupants, except passengers, were severely beaten.
They also caused stampede in some parts of the city, especially at the Veterinary Hospital, Mokola, where there was a minor accident.
Motorists also had a hectic time as they were held up in traffic gridlock for hours.
The protest brought out policemen and men of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps who manned strategic points to ensure it does not degenerate further.
They patrolled the city with blaring sirens, urging the aggrieved drivers to ensure they did not allow the protest degenerate to a breakdown of law and order.
‘We’re fed up’
One of the drivers, who only gave his name as Isiaka, said they were fed up with the illegal fees, which their leaders allegedly collect on daily basis.
According to him, after paying some mandatory fees at Ojoo end, another set of fee collectors will stand at the University of Ibadan, Sango, Mokola and Dugbe to collect theirs
He said: “We have made several complaints and entreaties to them, but they refused to yield. There is no way we can continue like this.
“What do we tell owners of the vehicles we drive when we stop work in the evening? We are going now to make formal complaints to the police at Eleyele, Ibadan, to help us call the union leaders to order.”
Telephone calls made to the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, and state chairman of NURTW, Mr. Taofeek Oyerinde, did not connect because their phones were switched off.
However, an ex-chairman of the union, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed the alleged extortion of the drivers by the current leadership of the union.