Do you think Nurtw operations should be banned nationally because of their operation in the Country?
The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is an independent Nigerian trade union that serves the interests of transport workers in the road transport sector, by calling for collective obtaining and pushing for social stability for all workers in the transport sector as defined in its constitution.
The union founded on 6 October 1957, is led by Lagos Socialite, Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya other known as MC Oluomo. NURTW is an organization that fulfills functions in public transport companies, ‘street gang’, and a transport worker’s union.
The core function of the union as believed is, however, to protect the rights of workers in the transport sector. The union raises funds through several methods, but the largest of these is through support and willful contribution of union funds. The dues collected are used to run functions in the union and support members.
However, the union has been known for controversial practices including corruption, extortion, and nepotism, exposed by the American-British journalist Louis Theroux in his 2010 documentary film.
A lot of issues have arisen that could lead to the union banned from the operation, ranging from harassment of ride-hailing startups, traditional bike drivers and bus drivers, violence either during an election or random rallies.
It is believed that since they have the backing of the Lagos state government, they can get away with virtually anything and everything irrespective of who is involved. Bike riders have fallen victims to the rage of the union members, as they are seen as trying to beat up bike drivers who refuse to pay them. This is contrary to their code of conduct which includes protecting the lives of transport workers, while on duty.
In a recent report, the NURTW was in negotiation with motorcycle (bike) hailing startup companies including the likes of Max Okada, Gokada, and Opera-backed ORide. They were accused of extorting those drivers ranging from 500naira to 1000naira. The ride-hailing companies with the support of the Lagos state government eventually agreed on 500naira daily fee to allow drivers to operate on the streets of the State.
As part of the new ticketing arrangement, the NURTW and Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) will each receive ₦200 while ₦100 will go to the local government where the ticket was sold.
Also in a recent video by an anonymous source, about nine touts (Agberos), were seen collecting money from a bus conductor, while they kept shouting “owo mi da?”(where is my money?) and each collected nothing less than a #100. It has now become an accepted thing to see a full-grown able man collecting money by force (owo bookings, owo loads, owo chairmen, owo awon boys, owo bus stop etc) under the guise of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) from operators of individually owned public vehicles and motorbikes.
This revenue does not benefit these transport workers in any form, bringing about the question of ‘why collect it in the first place?’. It also gives room for increment in T-fare in some cases.
Other questions to ask are, ‘where are and who are these funds remitted to?’, ‘Who are the Godfathers backing these people up and why are they so relevant in the society?’ However, these questions remained unanswered.
Though united, they are always seen fighting for supremacy and power. Earlier this year, about 29 members of the NURTW were arrested for trying to take over the leadership of the Union. Some of the items recovered from the suspects are guns with live cartridges, cutlasses, sharp knives, charms and weeds suspected to be Indian hemp, were recovered from the suspects.
Still on the fight for power and supremacy among these “civilized men”, a lot of men have lost their lives, but to mention a few, Chairman, Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria, Oshodi chapter, Rasaq Bello, a.k.a Hamburger was killed on May 29, 2017, during a Local Government primary election of APC in the Shogunle area of Oshodi, Lagos.
These fight for supremacy has caused a lot of tension in the country as citizens are always cautious of the union anytime they have a clash. Going outside Lagos, the factional leader of Oyo state chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Lateef Salako (a.k.a Eleweomo) was killed in a rivalry clash some year back after his 58th birthday. Why lose your life over a position that won’t last forever?
It is such a pity that our Politicians also play a major role in encouraging these men as they are the same set of people used while campaigning for elections and other ungodly vices they commit all in the name of leadership.
During the 2019 Presidential election, viral videos showed alleged NURTW thugs running away or burning ballot boxes of opposition parties that they feel is not supposed to be leading in the election. It was reported that a core member was also beaten up as he refused to agree to their conditions.
These political thugs are everywhere causing havoc in the country and our government is doing relatively nothing on the course. Apparently they serve as political backups for politicians whenever they are desperately in need of a position.
When you go to places like Oshodi underbridge, you will see pot-bellied abled men known as “Baba Isale”, who are waiting for the laborers to bring their own share and if not met, will face their wrath. ‘Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’ so they say!
The question now is with these unions still in the system, what are they doing, or how is their role benefitting the society?