Last week, Monday, a bus driver, set himself and his bus ablaze in Ikeja. According to another bus driver, Muritala Kareem, this was about the fifth time in a row that LASTMA officials would fine Monday.
When they stopped him this time near a Zenith Bank branch at Leventis, Maryland, he parked, brought out a keg of petrol from his booth, sprinkled on his bus and himself, and then put fire.
Some bus drivers have narrated their ordeal at the hands of Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) officials. In his account, Kareem said each time anyone gets into the web of the officials, he parts with nothing less than N11, 200.
“It’s one of two options: You either get a ticket of N50, 000, or ‘settle’ them with N11,200,” he said.
The drivers, who spoke in the Maryland area of Lagos, said LASTMA officials don’t go after those who flout traffic rules alone. They go after anyone unlucky enough to make their target list for the day.
“It is business for them, so they go after anyone,” said Sunday Fatunbi. “They fine you for opening your door in traffic. They fine you for reversing in a park and for so many other ridiculous reasons. When they ask you to pay N11, 200 or N7, 000, the money doesn’t get to the government; it goes into their pocket.”
Fatunbi also said that LASTMA officials have caused countless accidents in the process of chasing drivers on the streets of Lagos.
“They have caused so many accidents,” he said. “If you’ve been in Lagos for a while, you must have heard of one. Just two weeks ago, a driver who was being chased by LASTMA officials ran into a crowd of passengers here and killed one.”
Kareem said the team that attempted to swindle Monday before he set himself on fire was from the Oshodi unit of the agency and was led by a certain Mushiru, a three-star officer.
According to Kareem, people rescued Monday from self-immolation and took him to the hospital after the officials fled. The driver is still receiving treatment at the hospital.
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