Agbero Menace: Commuters In Abuja Weary Of Bus Stops

Agbero Menace: Commuters In Abuja Weary Of Bus Stops
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BY AMEH GEORGE

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) designed to be one of the most beautiful and organised mega cities in the world, no longer prides itself as a safe city where commuters can be free to park and drive off easily at approved bus stops.

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This is as a result of the illegal activities of some persons who claim to work for the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) commonly known as “Agberos”.

The constant harassment of commuters in the FCT has left very sorry tales on the lips of a number of people who fall victim to these individuals. Their activities have continued to go on unchecked, leaving commuters at the mercy of these fellows who inflict various injuries on commuters and damages to their vehicles.

For the past years, the menace of Agberos have become a recurring decimal in the nation’s capital, operating from garages, bus stops and other corners in the city. But the most worrisome of their activities which is fast becoming a security threat to the lives of residents, is their constant clashes with what they have tagged “Kabukabu” (unpainted taxi) and online mass transport operators commonly referred to as Uber and Bolt.

The NURTW has explained that these officers are deployed by the union to check the excesses of unsuspecting commuters who aren’t members of the union, but go ahead to pick passengers along the road for a fee.

Attempts by these enforcement officers to stop these unpainted taxis from picking and dropping passengers often leads to attacks on other car owners who innocently fall victim while dropping off or picking up their friends and loved  ones at these designated stop corners on the roads. This results in a face-off where vehicles are damaged, car owners severely injured. In some cases, the police is involved.

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Tunde Ajayi, a University graduate who has taken to being a Bolt driver, who narrated his experience to AljazirahNigeria, said at about 3pm, a few months ago, he was waiting in his parent’s car by Car-wash bus stop in Lugbe to pick his cousin who was coming from Ejigbo in Lagos State.

Suddenly three men rushed into his car struggling with him, in the process damaged the steering of the car, alleging he was waiting to load passengers to another destination. They overpowered him and collected his car key, even as all his explanation to let them know he was there to pick his cousin, fell on deaf ears.

He was forced, reluctantly though, to part with the N2, 000 he had on him before they released his car key.

For Adaji Onuh, another Abuja resident, he had to create a scene when they accosted him at the Area 1 Bus stop, when he tried to drop off his daughter who was to take a cab to University of Abuja where she is an undergraduate.

He had to call the daughter on phone to return so he can prove he wasn’t lying. Even at that, his car door knobs were broken, side mirrors shattered before he was allowed to go.

The online mass transport operators are not left out, as they are constantly harass even after having registered their vehicles with companies like Uber and Bolt for daily transport system in the city.

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These individuals, despite having done their registration with some of these units of the union, still have to face all forms of harassments from these touts owing to the fact that they continued to have different groups and have not found a way to work in sync to avoid having to clash with people who pay their registration fees regularly.

When AljazirahNigeria reporter spoke to Jude Amunchie, a driver at Wuse Zone 4, he lamented how he had to face a similar embarrassment from these officials even after he showed them his documents that revealed he had paid their levy up to date.

According to him, on seeing the papers, the men who seem embarrassed still held him down, alleging that he had only done that of another group and not theirs.

This leaves the riders with the question ‘which one is really approved to be collecting the registration levies’ as these enforcement officers continue to work at cross purposes, thereby constituting nuisance on the road.

These and many others are the issues some commuters in FCT have to face as they give rides to their wards or friends on their way out of the house.

Reacting to this, one of the units office of the NURTW, claimed the union was bitter at people who feigned as commuters giving rides to their loved ones, but go about picking passengers thereby depriving there members of having to work and make enough money. Another unit head at the Lugbe axis, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, accepted that those boys seen on the roads have actually been given the right to do so even though he acknowledged that some of them have been overbearing and acted out of place.

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“Look, if this people you are speaking for want to do kabukabu, let them come out and register with our union we won’t disturb them or they stop taking away passengers from our people. We won’t allow that,” he warned. On what the police is doing about these constant attacks on commuters, the Public Relations Officer of the FCT, Police Command, Mariam Yusuf, explained that they were working with relevant stakeholders concerned in resolving the issues.

When asked how drivers who fall victim should respond when faced with these people, she said they should remain calm and call the toll free numbers that have been made available to the public by the police.

Even though the police agreed that it has received several complaints from residents, there seem to be no willingness from them to treat this menace with the sense of urgency it requires. On the part of the Union, there seems to be a level of complacency among their leaders, as they continued to act unaware of the actual dangers posed by this illegality. It is high time the Police, other security agencies, community leaders alongside these stakeholders, found a lasting solution to this menace before this misunderstandings results in serious clash that may claim lives and properties, especially with the current spate of insecurity challenges and economic downturn facing the nation.

Aljazirahnews


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