An uneasy calm has returned to the markets in Lagos Island following a fracas among factional members of the National Union of Road Transport (NURTW) in the state.
The ever-busy markets were turned into a ghost town last Thursday as the crisis grounded business activities especially at the Idumota, Kosoko, Tom Jones, and Balogun areas of the market.
Video clips of the fracas were circulated on social media.
In one of the videos, a young man in blue shorts, who appeared to have machete cuts, was carried in a wheelbarrow. Another showed some cutlass-wielding men facing each other while some traders were seen scampering to safety.
Following the clash, two security trucks with operatives including the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) were spotted on Monday around the Idumota and Oke-Arin areas of the market to maintain peace.
On Tuesday, the police said they have arrested two principal characters involved in the clash. A few hours later, the Lagos State government announced the suspension of NURTW activities in the Idumota axis of the state.
A stray hit
Many witnesses told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday that the clash gave some robbers the opportunity to rob traders, customers, and commuters.
This newspaper gathered that the issue between the union workers started around Sunday but when it could not be contained among themselves they took to the streets – the bridge area of Idumota.
As a result, several traders quickly locked their shops to avoid being caught up in the melee and robbed.
Many of the bus drivers and conductors who ply the Mushin Idumota route pointed this reporter to their colleague, Kayode Sanyaolu, who was caught up in the shootout and hit by a bullet.
Mr Sanyaolu, who had just resumed work, explained that he got to Idumota around 6 a.m. on Thursday when the fight started.
The driver, who said he has been plying the route for about 30 years, said usually when fights break out among the union workers, they don’t extend it beyond the bridge area.
He said he was shot while he and his colleagues were talking about how to take their buses and leave the area. He said the bullet came from the bridge area.
He told this newspaper that he went to a traditionalist to treat his wounds because the bullet’s “boris” came from “Shakabula,” a locally-made gun.
“It is not for the hospital. There is a way they will call it out, they will use alcohol and some other things to cure it. The traditional way works better and quicker,” he said.
Mr Sanyaolu said that the fight almost broke out on Tuesday night and they were uncertain about the following day’s work.
“So we started calling our colleagues to know the situation and they said there is no problem,” he said.
Mr Sanyaolu said he is recovering and has been told by his ‘herbal doctor’ to mix certain herbs and apply it to the wound area to quicken his recovery process.
Oluwafemi Akinloye, a bus driver, said he had to tell the passengers he picked at Mushin to alight on the bridge when he saw the fight around 5 a.m.
He said the police came and for some hours they experienced peace but immediately they left, “they started again in the evening.”
He said they could not work on Thursday and Friday adding that someone also got hit by a bullet around the Iga-Kosoko area of the market.
A clothes seller in the bridge area of Idumota, Akanni Medigi, popularly called Omojomolo, said the fight started on Tuesday around the flyover area adding that he learned it was between Kunle Poly and the Idumota boys.
“We close around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Normally we close around 6 p.m. People could not enter the market for fear of being robbed.”
A trader at the Oke-Area market said that the fight was between Kunle Poly, a prominent member of the union, and one Wale Olomi adding that he believes that the union workers didn’t steal from people.
They only gave the thieves an opportunity to carry out their lawlessness, he said.
ALSO READ: Lagos govt suspends NURTW in Idumota clash
He noted that the clothes sellers in Kosoko have agreed to march to Alausa in Ikeja to protest on Thursday.
However, a drink seller in the Oke-Arin area of the market, who simply identified as Iya Fawas, said they didn’t enter the meat butchers’ area. The mother of four said she has been going to work daily except on Sunday.
A bus conductor, Adebayo Sanusi, said they could not complete a trip due to the fight adding that he lost his phone and money on Thursday morning when the fight ensued.
“Some boys brought a man who had been macheted in a truck in Idumota. In fact, they were even hitting him and he was vomiting blood till he died.
“They killed another one at Tom Jones. We still don’t know the cause of the fight.”
He said the matter has been ongoing but by Wednesday evening “they started bringing out cutlasses and came out on Thursday.”
The activities of the NURTW have often led to a crisis in the state. However, no lasting solution has been implemented by successive governments to curb their excesses.
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