On October 31, 2022, the Joint Drivers’ Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN) commenced a seven-day strike in Lagos State due to indiscriminate harassment and extortion by managers of parks and garages in Lagos State.

For a city known for its trademark yellow buses, it’s a strange sight to wake up on a Monday morning and find them absent from the usually busy traffic routes. 

The strike has left Lagosians stranded and waiting in line for the few available buses on the roads, as seen in videos posted on social media. Predictably, the scarcity of buses has led to price hikes along several routes.

Citizen spoke to some bus drivers for their thoughts on the strike.

Segun — a bus driver plying Obalende to Ajah

“The bus fare from Obalende to Ajah is ₦700. It was ₦500 earlier last week, but fuel scarcity made it ₦700 mid week. For the loading of passengers at the bus stop, we pay ₦‎6000 daily — ₦‎3000 at Obalende, ₦‎3000 at Ajah. 

“Immediately I collect money from my passengers, I pay it to the enforcer that helps me call in passengers. They give us tickets marked with the date so we can’t even think of outsmarting them when they ask us for their money the next day.

“I support the strike because the daily extortion eats into our profits. I used to own three buses, and I leased two out to other drivers. I thought they were ripping me off with their poor weekly returns but I’ve seen things for myself. I now own just one bus that I drive myself and the agbero payment is ruining my business. If I complain and refuse to pay, they’ll damage my side mirror, windshield or something valuable in my bus.”

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Chinedu — a bus driver in Sabo

The strike hasn’t affected me, it’s business as usual. They said the strike will reach seven days but I don’t think they’ll complete it because these are commercial buses and anyone can come out at any time. Obviously, I still want the government to do something about the strike because the agberos extort us a lot. 

“As I am now, I’ll pay for loading and booking. From junction to junction, the money we pay every day is ₦‎7000, I swear to God. I heard there was a meeting with the government before the strike commenced but I wasn’t a part of it.”

Akinleke — a driver in Bariga

“The strike affects me as I’m in transportation for Lagos State. I used to work with the local government until I had an accident that affected me in 2020. MC Musilliu collected our work from the local government. Before then, national transport unions were different from local ones but MC collected all of them. 

“The strike is supposed to be from Monday to Monday, but look outside, you can still see vehicles going about their business.”

*Dele — a driver in Yaba

“The government needs to call LASTMA, the task force and even the police to order. They collect money from us and it’s not little. If the task force holds you they would extort anything between ₦80,000 and ₦100,000. How much do we make? 

Agbero will collect, task force will collect, LASTMA will collect, police officers will collect and they’ll do it with force because the Lagos State government gives them the avenue to do so. Can they try this in other states? We work for others to eat. 

“Honestly, I don’t really mind if it’s just the agberos extorting us, we can manage that. But when you add the rest including the task force and LASTMA, those are the problems. The government should do something about that.”

*Subject’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

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