Thursday, August 11

We can't drive on empty stomachs - BRT drivers cry out

Commuters were stranded on Monday, when Lagos Bus Rapid Transport, BRT’s drivers and ticketers on the Ikorodu-CMS route downed tools over unpaid salaries and unfavourable condition of service.

The BRT scheme, operated by Primero Transport Services Ltd., began operation in November 2015 and has 434 buses on its fleet; and more than 2,000 staff.

It was gathered that the workers convened an emergency meeting at about 5.45a.m. at the loading station, after which they converged on the bus corridor and barricaded it. The protest was orderly.
Some of the workers lamented that their terms of service had been reversed, with salaries slashed from N60,000 to N45,000.

A driver, Mr. Julius Adejire, said: “We are still waiting for our July salaries. The funny thing is that as at Monday evening, we discovered that some other staffers, including the engineers and ground staff, have been receiving salaries alerts. Can we drive this bus on empty stomach?’’

Adejire said that apart from delayed salaries, the drivers wanted improved welfare and working conditions. He said: “The policy guiding our job is another issue; we are working like slaves because as a driver you cannot stop to ease yourself or have break time.

“We are supposed to be doing 40 hours in a week, but they cowed us into doing 48 hours with just one off day instead of two. “We have been tolerating them because we believe this is a new project that needs to be supported, but the situation is getting tougher.

“We don’t even know where we are heading; the buses are still new. Is it when the buses go bad that they will pay us? “In our appointment letter, they said we will receive N60,000 as basic salary and N20,000 as performance bonus. After five months they changed it to N40,000 basic and N40,000 bonus with a lot of conditions.

“They are trying to instil discipline when there is no staff bus or accommodation arrangement for drivers who come from as far as Sango-Ota, Badagry and Agbara.”

He added that drivers, who could not afford to sleep on the bridge near the BRT bus shelter, pay N500 daily to sleep in a nearby church.

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