IT was supposed to be a smooth, uneventful journey from PWD, along the Lagos\Abeokuta expressway, to Agege and then to Abule-Egba. But this was not to be for Edibo Roseline, a student of Hospitalily Management, Federal Polytechnic, Idah, Kogi State. She is presently fighting for her life in a hospital, no thanks to the recent clash between the Tricycle Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria, TOOAN and the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, at Iyana-Ipaja, Abule-Egba and Kollington which lasted for three days.
Roseline’s parents are, however, full of thanks that their daughter is alive to tell the story of her near-death experience the fateful day of that bloody clash. This is as they informed, when Vanguard Metro met them at a government hospital in Lagos, of their struggle to raise fund for a surgery for their daughter who still has pellets lodged in her cheeks.
Narrating her experience, Roseline, who said she is doing her industrial attachment with a hotel in Ikeja, informed that she boarded a commercial tricycle from Agege to Abule-Egba but on getting to Oja – Oba at about 6pm, she noticed that there was confusion there with panic-stricken people scampering for safety.
She took to her heels, running towards the direction of her house in Abule-Egba. Though oblivious of the cause of the fracas, she said she noticed the presence of soldiers at strategic positions, even though this did not appear to scare the area boys who were seen causing mayhem in the area. Roseline said she was a few metres away from Abule-Egba bus-stop when suddenly she heard gun shots and she immediately sought refuge at a corner since most of residential buildings had been deserted.
It was while she was still trying to find a convenient spot to hide herself that she was unfortunately hit by stray bullets. She fell unconscious at the spot in her pool of blood. Luckily for her, some sympathisers quickly came to her aid. They took her away from the spot and soon located her parents.
She was subsequently taken to the General Hospital, Oke-Odo where first aid treatment was administered before she was transferred to the General Hospital, Ikeja and finally to Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba where she regained consciousness.
The 20-year-old student was not the only victim of the attack. Another was Komolafe Olamilekan who sustained abdominal injuries from stray bullets. The victim, a commercial tricyclist in Abule-Egba who spoke from his hospital bed, said it was his turn on the queue to load passengers when suddenly some members of NURTW shot at him during a fracas; many people, including commuters and passengers, were also attacked.
Olamilekan who was writhing in pains when Vanguard Metro visited him at the hospital, explained that the crisis between both unions did not start on the day in question. According to him, it has long been brewing and eventually exploded on that fateful Saturday. Findings revealed that two people died during the Kollington crisis, while five were injured. Also, four others were reportedly injured at Abule-Egba.
When contacted, the NURTW Chairman in Lagos, Tajudeen Agbede, said the tricycle owners association has been banned; the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation banned them from the roads.””
In his reaction, TOOAN Chairman Comrade Joseph Odusanya said there is cordial relationship between his union and NURTW.. He said: “There is no fracas between TOOAN and NURTW but an independent group broke away from the existing body with a different ideology which did not augur well with the policies of the union. As a result, they were asked to remove their tricycles from our parks but they refused”.
He said the fracas was a counter-attack, adding: “Some of them launched an attack on our Abule-Egba office on a Friday and a counter- attack took place the following day which spread to Kollington bus-stop. The clash claimed the life of a member and injured eight others.”
As for levies, he informed that the unit, branch and state are usually in charge, adding that the branch members should hold their chairmen responsible for this. “Members are free to confront their branch chairmen if they are not satisfied with the levies,” he said.