When a group of people feel cheated and treated wrongly especially in their jobs, they will usually turn to pressure groups like the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) - for legal practitioners, to fight for their rights.
In the case of road transport workers, the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is expected to take up these fights for them. But this doesn't seem to be the case for the supposed pressure group.
Naijauto feels the activities of the NURTW have been anything other than solidarity for the plight of the road transport workers which they claim they represent. Rather, than see to the plight of these workers, they are more concerned about the fees and levies they collect from transporters from one bus stop to the other. If any transporter is unable to pay these levies, these NURTW representatives aka "Agbero" are seen taking all sorts of violent actions. These violent actions range from destroying some of the car accessories, violently grabbing the conductor, or even resulting in fisticuffs sometimes.
The NURTW's foot soldiers collecting all sorts of levies at every bus stop you turn!
These are some the behaviours that have been a torn in the flesh of most transporters and by extension, the passengers especially in states like Lagos, Oyo, and Ogun.
It will interest you to know that according to NURTW's website it can be noted that their objective is written as “THE NATIONAL UNION OF ROAD TRANSPORT WORKER (NURTW) Union is an organization that represents employees’ interests to management on such issues as wages, work hours and working conditions”.
It also said on the website that NURTW function is to “Protect, defend & promote the rights, well-being and the interests of all workers in the union against discrimination and unfair labour practices," such an irony!
All above information garnered from their online platform shows objectives that are noble and indeed centred on the welfare of its members. However, how the representatives go about these objectives leaves no doubt that they have totally abandoned these objectives and have started chasing other aims that are not in line with what they have stated on their website.
These NURTW guys are ready to remove accessories of the bus if the driver is unable to pay the fees!
But, here is the thing! In a society where there are elected governments and security agents, one will think this would have been curbed, but no, the government have effectively gone blind on the menacing issues of Agberos and these NURTW foot soldiers are getting stronger and fiercer by the day.
The levies that are imposed on their so-called members are not even friendly and are oppressive, to say the least. For instance, at every loading bus-park, they have all sorts and manners of levies that bus owners must pay before they can load passengers. You'll hear levies like "booking fees", owo chairman (chairman's levy), owo boys (boys' levies), and other irregular levies that are not legal. But that's not all. As the drivers start their journey, they begin to pay other levies at different bus-stops to other Agberos on their route.
NURTW recruits its members with bold lies
This is simply repressing, and exploiting, with these ruffians threatening to do all manners of wicked acts to drivers if they fail to comply and pay these levies, even after paying a lot at the bus park.
The southwest seems to be feeling the brunt the most, but Lagos and Oyo especially Ibadan seem to have it roughest, with these thugs collecting so much money on a per diem. This begs the question, who exactly takes the delivery of these monies collected, maybe we can address the issue better if we knew who takes the monies.
If the NURTW will follow their guidelines strictly, it would have made the transport work a more prestigious and enviable sector of the economy. Their guidelines have the following as the set of services rendered to its members.
(i) Militant functions
- To achieve higher wages and better working conditions
- To raise the status of workers as a part of the industry
- To protect labours against victimization and injustice
(ii) Fraternal functions
- To take up welfare measures for improving the morale of workers
- To generate self-confidence among workers
- To encourage sincerity and discipline among workers
- To provide opportunities for promotion and growth
- To protect women workers against discrimination.
These are the guidelines that the NURTW is supposed to be guided by, but the government who is also supposed to caution their excess have looked the other way. Perhaps this might have been the reason for the effrontery of the NURTW, who will often stage violent activities causing civil unrest in the community and in the states during election period if their candidates seem to be losing the election.
Agberos are omni-present in every Lagos corner
It is even believed that they are used by the government to enforce and institute their rule in communities. Some of the aftermaths of the post-election violence in Ibadan recently, have been traced to this reason.
The government is elected to take care of such acts of brigandage and violence that usually lead to loss of lives. Naijauto hopes that the newly elected governors in the most affected states of Lagos and Oyo will take strict and decisive efforts to bring this to an end.
>>> To avoid any problem on public transport in Nigeria, check this: How to be a civilized Danfo rider!