Police sue for dialogue between feuding NURTW, Transport ministry in Enugu

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that members of the NURTW on Monday embarked on protest against alleged extortion from special marshals of the ministry in the state.

Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, Mohammed Danmallam, has called for calm between the feuding National Union of Road Transport Workers and the state’s Ministry of Transport.
Danmallam made the call in a meeting with heads of the two bodies in Police Headquarters, Enugu on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that members of the NURTW on Monday embarked on protest against alleged extortion from special marshals of the ministry in the state.
NAN reports that commuters, especially school children, workers and traders, were stranded in the metropolis following the withdrawal of commercial buses from the roads.
The commissioner called on both parties to close ranks and resolve their face-off amicably in the interest of the people.
He said: “Police is meant to maintain peace, law and order. I am pleading with you people to find a way to dialogue and settle the current issue that caused hardship to our people this morning.
“I have directed the X-Squad and CP Special Squad to monitor, investigate and arrest anybody extorting money from commercial bus drivers without justification.
“The police will not close its eyes and allow school children trek a long distance as they did this morning.
“I appeal to you (commercial bus drivers) to go back to your business, while your executives should forward a formal complaint to me and open yourselves for dialogue on this issue.’’
Earlier, Chief Anthony Asogwa, the Chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers, said the face-off was because of regular and unbearable extortion of its members by enforcement officials of the state ministry of transport.
Asogwa said: “The commercial bus drivers are protesting the constant harassment, high-handedness and hardship, the extortion of N10,000, N20,000 and N30,000 from minor road offences by the ministry’s enforcement officials.
“The commercial bus drivers resolved not to operate until something is done about the situation.’’
He, however, thanked the commissioner for wading into the issue and directing officers to monitor and investigate the situation.
Reacting, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ogbonna Idike, said the situation was unfortunate as the ministry had a robust working relationship with the NURTW.
Idike apologised and assured that the hardship witnessed on Monday within the metropolis would not happen again, as the ministry would work more closely with the union.
He said the ministry was never extorting money from commercial drivers as the fines for traffic offences were known to all and paid directly into a government account in the bank.
Idike said: “Our enforcement officers are well trained and they are not allowed to collect cash or money from anybody.
“But if you default, you are booked and directed to pay your fine into a state government account in a bank. So, the issue of extortion of drivers does not arise at all.
“However, we are noticing some bad eggs among our enforcement officials, who are currently weeded out from the ministry.’’
He said that the ministry was trying to harmonise the transport union, as the current faction in the union was hampering communication between the ministry and NURTW in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the protest by commercial buses plying various routes in Enugu metropolis on Monday caused untold hardship to the residents, traders, civil servants, and school children.
NAN reports that the commercial bus drivers resumed for business around 2:30 p.m, thus bringing relief to the people, especially school pupils and students going back home.