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09.04.2023 Featured REPORTER’S DIARY: Despite Ban on Illegal Taxes, Agberos Still Harass Lagos Drivers

Published 9th Apr, 2023

By Opeyemi Lawal

On March 30, Musiliu Akinsanya (Mc Oluomo), chairman of the Lagos State Parks and Garages Association, placed a ban on illegal agbero taxes in the Oshodi and Tollgate areas of the state.

This reporter took a ride from Oshodi to Tollgate on Tuesday to find out how the ban on illegal agbero taxes was being implemented.

The trip from Oshodi, where we took off in a worn yellow danfo which interior had seen better days, was seamless. The road was free of the usual agberos who would attempt to break a bus’ mirror or door if the driver or conductor refused to pay taxes.

READ ALSO: Following Protest, Mc Oluomo Bans Illegal Agbero Taxes in Part of Lagos

However, the narrative was quick to change when we got to Agege. There, two agberos, one in a lemon shirt and the other in a faded shirt, were quick to stop our bus from moving further.

Owo da? (Where is your money?),” They demanded fiercely.

The conductor, who looked like he would do anything to avoid a fight, handed N500 to them.

Further down, in Orile-Agege, a street lord wearing a navy blue cap was waiting. For an illegible marking scrawled with green marker, the conductor parted with another N500.

I saw his face wince in pain as he calculated what was left with him.

AGBADO-KOLA

In Agbado-Kola, a fair complexioned agbero accosted us and demanded N200 from the conductor.

Owo osan da? (Where is the money for afternoon?),” He asked as he stretched out his hand.

“No money,” the conductor shot back.

A few back and forth and the driver had to pay him to buy some peace.

AJEGUNLE

In Ajegunle, just four bus stops away from Agbado-Kola, where our conductor reluctantly parted with N300, two agberos latched themselves on to our bus while it was still in motion.

One of the agberos, wearing a white and black checkered shirt, held out a N500 note to the conductor, who immediately exchanged it with a N200 note. The stern-looking agbero detached himself abruptly from the moving bus and left the other one to his fate.

In the footage recorded by FIJ, the conductor, who was visibly angry, refused to part with more money, which caused the agbero to attempt to remove his door.

“What’s the money for again?” The conductor asked.

“Money for ticket.”

“Tickets that I already paid N800 for? I didn’t collect tickets or load here, and I am going up there where I will still pay again.”

Agberos attaching themselves to a bus for money
Agberos attaching themselves to a bus for money. Photo: Opeyemi Lawal/FIJ

The disgruntled agbero who was bent on causing trouble changed his mind and said the tax was for security.

“I just want to collect N100; N100 for security,” the agbero said.

The conductor refused to give him more money but had to part with one of his slippers as punishment from the agbero who ran off with it.

FIJ’s attempt to speak with the conductor and his driver was frustrated, as they ordered all the passengers to disembark almost at the same point.

Before they drove off however, more agberos attached themselves to the bus and demanded a levy for offloading.

READ ALSO: Lagos Drivers Protest Increased Agbero Taxes

‘WE CAN NOW TAKE MONEY HOME’

Meanwhile, some commercial drivers have been lucky to escape the clutches of the street lords since the policy was implemented for transport workers on that route.

One of the drivers, an elderly man in his sixties, who spoke with FIJ, said he could now afford to take money home since the ban on the illegal taxes.

“Before the illegal tax was abolished, a driver and conductor would have to spilt N4000 or less after each day’s work,” he told FIJ.

“Sometimes, there is nothing to take home after sorting delivery fees. Failure to deliver the exact amount implies that you won’t get the bus the following day and that is more terrible.

“But now that they are off the road in some places, we are beginning to afford decent take-home gradually.”

Another driver told FIJ that the state council of the Lagos State Parks and Garages Association had also been faithful with its N1 million pledge to the drivers.

“Mc Oluomo gave us the N1 million he promised the drivers. The money is being shared based on the injury and worth of stolen items,” he said.

“Some people got N70,000, some got N20,000, some got 10,000 and some N5000. However, three phones are still missing. They belong to those who were taken to the Panti police station, and the police have refused to own up to their disappearance.”

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Published 9th Apr, 2023

By Opeyemi Lawal

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