Many injured as transport workers clash in Apapa

Pandemonium broke out in the Coconut and Tin Can Island areas of Lagos on Thursday as members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers and the National Association of Road Transport Owners clashed.

It was learnt that four truck drivers were seriously injured in the fracas, which lasted for nearly one and a half hours.

The Chairman of the dry cargo section of NARTO, Alhaji Innua Mohammed, said the clash, which started in the morning, threw many port users into panic and unable to access the port through the Tin Can Island area.

Mohammed alleged that officials of the union were attacked by hoodlums, who were members of the NURTW.

He stated, “At night, these area boys mobilised themselves and police escorts from the Trinity Police Station; some of the drivers, who were sleeping in their trucks, were shot at and attacked with machetes and their trucks were destroyed; the hoodlums wanted to burn some of the trucks.

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“Apart from the driver shot with a locally-made pistol, we have four people attacked with machetes.”

One of the drivers, who craved anonymity, said the attackers were annoyed that trucks were hindering the free movement of their buses from the Ajegunle area.

According to him, the NURTW members got help from LASTMA officials and blocked the main road from the Tin Can Port in order to make way for buses coming from Ajegunle.

He said, “We were in the trucks and didn’t know what was going on; all of a sudden, we saw area boys coming out and attacking us with machetes and shooting at us. I have personally taken three people to hospital.

“My conductor is currently in hospital and doctors have extracted 18 bullets from his body already.

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“The area boys were escorted by the police and they were shooting repeatedly, while the police were firing teargas canisters in our direction.

“These area boys are members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers; they said the attack was because their bus were not moving freely.”

Mohammed alleged that the hoodlums were extorting as much as N80,000 from the truck drivers trying to pass through Ajegunle in order to beat the traffic.

It was gathered that the NARTO officials were trying to calm down the aggrieved drivers as of the time of filing this report.

The spokesperson for the Lagos State Police Command, Bala Elkana, told one of our correspondents that the crisis was caused by NARTO members, who invaded the territory of the NURTW members to collect dues from commercial bus drivers.

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He said, “The problem was between members of NARTO and the agberos. The NARTO men from the Tin Can first gate and crossed over to the Okoko North area, which is not their jurisdiction, to collect dues from truck drivers. Then the agberos from Okoko North blocked them, saying that they could not come to their area and be collecting dues. The two groups were throwing stones at each other.

“Four truck windscreens were shattered with stones; nobody was killed, but four people were injured. The situation was brought under control. We sent reinforcement made up of personnel of the Rapid Response Squad and regular policemen, who quickly restored normalcy in the area.

“Investigation has commenced. The leaders of both groups have been invited for questioning.”

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