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MOLUE OPERATORS IN ANGUISH

– as Fashola bars them from Lagos Island

Reactions have started to trail the decision of the Lagos State Government to bar Mercedes Benz 911 commercial buses, popularly called Molue from operating on Lagos Island and any of the link bridges, the Third Mainland, Eko and Carter, as well as the Lagos Central Business District, CBD.

They are also prohibited from plying Iddo, Ebute Ero, Obalende, Idumota, CMS, Apongbon, among others.

Any Molue that is found on any of the prohibited routes will be impounded by LASTMA officials as they have been mandated to ensure strict compliance and impound any molue that is found to have flouted the directive after September 4, 2013.

ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with some molue drivers on their reaction to the new order, and they had these to say…

 

WASIU AKINADE

What’s your name and how do you feel about the directive from Lagos state government that molues should not ply Lagos Island?

My name is Wasiu Akinade. These buses that Fashola is saying he doesn’t want in Lagos Island have been in this state for a very long time. They have been in Lagos long before Fashola even dreamt of becoming a governor. We don’t know his reason for saying he doesn’t want molue again. There is no vehicle that does not get spoilt. If you look at his own buses, his BRT, a lot of them are in bad shape already.

But do you think Lagosians are still keen on entering molue?

Is this not molue that people are queuing to enter? A lot of people still like it. We carry people sitting for N100, and we charge N50 for standing but Fashola’s BRT charges N150 for sitting and standing. So our buses are preferable and more affordable.

 

KOLA ADENIYI

I heard they gave LASTMA officials targets to meet every week in terms of how much they deliver to the government, and anytime they fail to do that, they will be replaced. They just arrest us unnecessarily and without reason. And when they arrest you, they will ask if you want a ticket or pay N30,000 instantly. All these are the problems we are encountering apart from this new law.

Are you satisfied with the remaining routes molue is still allowed to operate?

We don’t have a choice than to comply but my problem is that even on the routes we are allowed to ply, we are constantly harassed unnecessarily by the LASTMA officials as if they don’t even want to see us. They will just appear from nowhere and say we just dropped a passenger and ask all the passengers to get down. When we start begging, they’ll ask for N15,000. It’s like we are working for them.

But aren’t Lagosians tired of molue?

Ah! Molue owns Lagos. Passengers are complaining bitterly that they want molue to ply Lagos Island because they don’t get vehicles easily anymore. We carry them for N100, whereas small buses charge them N350. Consider it, how much are some of them making?

The government complained that most of your buses are rickety and in bad condition?

It’s not true. They asked every one of us to fix our vehicles and we all complied. There was a time when all the bodies of our vehicles were rough but look at them now, look at them all on the queue and point at one bus with rough body. We have all fixed our vehicles, yet they are harassing us. We can’t steal.

 

MUKAILA BADMUS

What is your take on the state government’s decision to bar molue from Lagos Island?

Fashola has banned us from going to the Island and if you observe, you will notice that there are no molues plying Ikorodu Road anymore. Our challenge now is that on the roads where we are not banned, we cannot stop at bus stops to pick passengers without being harassed by LASTMA officials. They collect bribes from us and it affects us badly. Everybody knows that there wasn’t something like this during the days of Tinubu in power. In Tinubu’s time, everybody could do their thing without harassment. They (LASTMA) went to Lagos Island and captured molue drivers and collected hefty sums from them. Someone that had three molues has nothing now and others don’t even have a bus to drive anymore.

Sometimes, passengers don’t have money and they board molue and we help them. But this can never happen with Fashola’s BRT because they must pay before they enter.

Don’t you people have representatives that can plead your case with the government?

We have done that severally. We tried to make them see our plight but they were not interested. Fashola’s regime does not give us rest of mind at all.

Since the government is supposed to be serving the citizens, maybe Lagosians do not want molues anymore?

Lagosians want molue. The reason is that our buses are pocket friendly and we help them get to their places of work.

 

MUKAILA OGUNBANKE

What’s your reaction to the restriction of molues from the Island and other routes?

We have actually stopped going to the Island. It is only few daring drivers that attempt it on rare occasions. We stopped going to the Island since the LASTMA people started exploiting us and collecting exorbitant bribes, yet they harass us after collecting our money.

What about the routes you are allowed to work, how are you finding it?

The stress is much, my brother. We are not allowed to work in peace.

Why do you think things are like that?

I am also asking that question o. How I wish I knew. Even when we stop at a bus stop and we park totally away from the road, they will still take our number and we will be stopped, for no reason.

Is it that your vehicles are rickety or in poor condition?

No, they aren’t. And it’s not as if they breakdown on the road. We maintain our buses to perfection now so they cannot use that as an excuse again. We have all fixed our buses.

What do you think can be done to resolve your matter?

If the government wants to help us, they can help us by creating bus stops where LASTMA would acknowledge and agree not to harass and victimise us again for no reason.

 

 – DANIEL FAYEMI

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