By Saheed Ibrahim
What could have resulted into a bloody clash between truck drivers and commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada riders, was yesterday averted in Akure, capital, following the intervention of the state government.
The tipper driver had staged a protest against the Okada riders for burning a truck estimated at about N20 million on Friday night as a result of the death of a commercial motorcyclist.
The deceased Okada rider reportedly rammed into the faulty tipper truck parked along the High Court axis of Hospital road, Akure around 8 30pm on Friday and died instantly while his passenger was critically injured.
This infuriated the Okada riders and they set the faulty truck ablaze.
Furious about the burning of the truck, the tipper drivers blocked the major roads in the state, demanding the purchase of a new tipper truck from the arsonists.
They also demanded that the state government must curb the excesses of Okada riders in the state, alleging that it was not the first time truck drivers would be assaulted by them.
The protest led to Traffic snarls along Akure major roads such as Oba Adesida, Arakale, NEPA, High Court, Oja-Alagbaka, Arakale-Alagbaka roads for hours as commercial activities were paralysed.
While speaking with The Hope, the Secretary, Joint Sand Tipper Drivers Association, Adewumi Isaac berated the Okada riders for being destructive whenever any issue ensued, alleging that the commercial motorcyclists once killed one of their members.
He told The Hope that the union was for demanding government’s intervention and an end to “the barbaric attitude” of Okada riders.
“We want government to come to our aid. Its N20 million worth tipper. They should do something to ameliorate the impact of the loss. Maybe they will task the Okada riders to gather the money or the government will give the money. That is why we are here,” Isaac told The Hope.
One of the truck drivers, who witnessed the incident on Friday, Afere Olaniyi alleged that the Okada riders punched his face and also beat up the driver, who, he said, was receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital.
He called on the state government to curb the excesses of the commercial motorcyclists.
In order to avert the protest from degenerating into warfare between the two unions, the Senior Special Adviser to the State Governor on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, in company of some security personnel, appealed to the tipper truck drivers to open the roads and have a roundtable discussion with the state government on the issue.
While addressing newsmen, Dojumo said that the state government would with both the truck drivers union and the Okada riders union to chart a peaceful way forward.
While disclosing that the police were still conducting investigation as regards the accident and the burning of the tipper truck, the SSA said the state government would not be responsible for the provision of a new tipper truck.
“Sincerely how will you hold the government responsible? The best thing we can do is bring them together and dialogue on the way forward on this issue.
“That’s my purpose for being here now to invite them; 10 from each of the union, that is the Okada union and tipper union to meet with the government so that we can talk, dialogue concerning this issue.
“It will be premature now for government to buy a tipper for anybody or motorcycle for anybody because we have not even gotten the fact of the matter”
He appealed to the protesting truck drivers to unblock the roads and allow innocent road users to go about their daily activities unhindered.