Beware ‘Mushin LGA’s traffic taskforce!’
• How Dubious ‘Officials’ Rip-Off Innocent Motorists
• We Have No Such Agency, Says Sole Administrator
Motorists who ply the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, especially the Iyana Itire – Toyota Bus Stop axis of the service lane, might, one time or the other, have come across men of the Mushin Local Government traffic unit in branded aprons.
These fellows, usually five in number, move around in a rickety towing van, harassing private car owners. Their modus operandi is crude.
Once a motorist stops on the service lane, to pick a call, or allow a passenger alight, they appear, as from nowhere. Three of them would jump out of the van. If the motorist has his window open, one of them would grab the steering wheel, yelling at the driver to get out. Another would fly into the car through the rear door, barking that the driver has violated the local government’s ‘no parking’ rule.
While this is going on, the towing van is used to block the vehicle’s path. Another official makes a show of trying to chain the car, preparatory to towing it away. It is, however, a ruse, an attempt to terrify the motorist and force a ‘negotiation’.
Even when cars are parked well off the service lane, and by the fence of a company in such a way they pose no obstruction whatsoever to the flow of traffic, the exploitative traffic officers still come around. Sometimes, they tow the cars away, especially if they look posh. At other times, they lurk around, wait for the driver to appear, and promptly slam him or her with their ridiculous charge.
One motorist, Babatunde, narrated his ordeal. He was accosted around Five Star Bus Stop. The way they stormed the scene left him puzzled as to whether they were indeed government officials or touts. Besides, one of them reeked of alcohol.
Babatunde had been heading towards Gbagada when he heard a strange sound emanating from his car. “I stopped to find the source of the noise. I had barely stepped out of the car when these boys swooped on me, commando style. I explained why I had stopped. But they were deaf. I did not even park on the road. I ensured I used the space in front of a company, clearly off the service lane. After much explanation and pleas, they demanded I follow them to their office.”
As they drew closer to Iyana Itire, one of them suggested he should be pardoned, because the impending fine could be backbreaking. “If we take you to the office, you will pay N30,000,” the man said. After much bargaining, Babatunde was forced to part with N10,000.
The Sole Administrator for Mushin, Yinka Kazeem, however, said the local government had a task force on environment but not on traffic.
Asked if there was no term of reference for the task force such that they had to carry out their activities indiscriminately, Kazeem said was a term of reference, but that some of the officers might have become overzealous.
“I have been hearing different versions of how they carry out their duties and I have taken this as a complaint now,” said the sole administrator.
He asked the reporter to get in touch with the head of the task force for a briefing on their mode of operation and whether he knew the affected officers.
The head, Alfa Remi, said the body was set up to keep roads free of abandoned vehicles and prevent mechanics from converting roads into workshops.
“We ask them to leave the road when we see such. And at times, we take pictures, mostly on new and inner roads. Sometimes, it is the CDC and CDA members that call us. I am not sure who these boys are, especially because we do not operate on the expressway.”
It will be recalled that the last administration in the state prohibited local governments from operating traffic task forces, following public outcry over their fraudulent activities.