Oshodi Violence: Lagos Bans NURTW, screams the headline.

When the NURTW (National Union Of Road Transport Workers) members go on rampage, you had better not be in the crossfire. They are almost always a law unto themselves, particularly in Lagos. They usually leave in their wake mind numbing vandalism, destroying properties, inflicting injuries on people, etc.

Transporters are compulsorily co-opted into the union whether or not they want it. This is the practice in many informal sectors. Pepper grinders, tailors, vulcanizers, Okada riders, etc. They all have unions. And membership is mandatory, just like the payment of the levies the leaders impose .

Someone made this submission,

The NURTW model is backward and archaic. If London could run its world famous red buses efficiently without such a murderous, meddlesome and extortionist union, then it’s high time the NURTW was made redundant by supplanting it with a modern and friendly system.

The problem is many of the members of these unions are not particularly well educated, so this would rub off on how they run their affairs.

Generally, trying to go against these associations would attract dire consequences (like having your sewing machine, pepper grinder, or Okada seized). Reporting to the police would be a waste of time.

I would imagine belonging to any association should be a voluntary thing?

Where there is freedom of association, shouldn’t there also be freedom of disassociation?

Continued daily extortion on the roads is something that should be nipped In the bud. But, how feasible?

The NURTW members are often ready tools in the hands of politicians during electioneering campaign, and during elections proper.

Ordinarily, one would applaud the temporary ban and wish for its elongation into perpetuity. But, alas, this ban is likely to be difficult to enforce or even sustain.

Why do I say so?

A little bird tells me powerful political figures get “delivered to” daily, in raw cash, specifically in Lagos. (Just like many Lagos markets where extortionists collect illegal daily dues – delivering to the market leaders).

The popular Computer Village, Ikeja is a prime example of a place where levies are collected daily from some categories of traders, and you wonder where the money goes, what the money is used for, and the legality of those levies (extortions).

It is noteworthy that the union is most notorious and daring in the South-Western part of the country, leaving one to wonder if there aren’t branches of the union spread all over the country.. One is then tempted to conclude that this is all about security forces docility or complicity!

This daily collections in motor garages amount to huge sums, hence the violent clashes that happen when a new NURTW leader is to be chosen. It is somewhat the case that a new leader only comes into the saddle when the former one gets muscled out (usually by being killed)

The root of all the problem is of course money. And corruption.

The financial and violent power the NURTW members seem to wield with reckless abandon is predicated on tacit support / complicity from the police authorities who are almost always invisible when they (the unionists) start their violence, The security forces are never decisive in checkmating the Kindle violence, and often look away from the daily interminable extortionate levies.

There is ‘owo olopa ‘ that bus drivers get charged (meaning ‘police money) _ money delivered to the relevant police Ogas, on a daily basis. Therefore, it is in the interest of the police guys for these disorderliness and extortions to continue. This is a mafia being run, with the relevant authorities turning a blind eye;.

With this temporary ban on NURTW activities by the Governor of Lagos State, it would be interesting to see if / how this would be enforced. After all there is freedom of association.

Past attempts by government to ban associations like the NLC, or Student Union bodies have not been successful .

Banning a union because its members are prone to violence seems like the wrong way to go. How about enforcing extant laws and making prime examples of people who disturb public peace?
Perhaps this solution naive or too simplistic? Or, are we saying these folks are above the law?

Let’s see how this indefinite temporary ban pans put….

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