The number of BRT buses destroyed by vandals protesting the death of a street hawker at Maryland, Lagos on Wednesday is 48, the transport company’s management said on Thursday.
Mr Fola Tinubu, Managing Director, Primero Transport Services Ltd., managers of the BRT Buses, told newsmen in Lagos that the company’s vehicle was not involved in the mishap.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that violence broke out on Wednesday at Maryland bus stop after a street hawker was killed by a truck.
The hawker was said to be fleeing arrest by Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officials before his untimely death.
NAN reports that no sooner than the incident occurred, the suspected hoodlums and other hawkers pounced on the mass transit vehicles to vent their anger over hawker’s death.
Tunubu said: “As at the time of this statement, 48 buses were estimated to have been vandalised and damaged at the scene of the event.
“The blue BRT buses did not in any way, directly or otherwise, have contact with the late young man.
“I am saying categorically that none of our buses or drivers was involved in the accident.
“Even the statement released by KAI and that by the Lagos State Commissioner for Information clearly attests to this,’’ he said.
“Unfortunately, the suspected hoodlums took advantage of the incident to unleash mayhem on our drivers, while also causing severe damages to our buses.
“Some of the busmen are still receiving medical treatment and some commuters had some of their belongings stolen.
“The damages on the buses range from broken front, sides and rear windshields to the side mirrors. Some buses also had their exteriors dented.
“The buses will be parked in our depot until repairs are carried out which we expect will run into millions of Naira.’’
On the estimated cost of the damage, Tinubu, expressed uncertainty saying, that “we, including our insurers are still quantifying the financial implications right now.
“But we know for a fact that it is going to run into hundreds of millions of Naira.
“My people will work round the clock to make sure we get these buses out as soon as possible’’.
Tinubu further said that some hoodlums had been arrested and handed over to the Nigeria Police in connection with the incident, adding that “the company will ensure other perpetrators are arrested’’.
He added that the company had put measures in place to ensure that the withdrawal of the vandalised buses neither affected the company’s 24 hours operation nor commuters.
“I have been to about six of our major bus stops; the commuters are not feeling that effect because of the actions we took on Wednesday night.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) night, we cancelled the night shift just because of safety reasons, and I have just spoken to my drivers and encouraged them; they will go back on the road,’’ Tinubu, said.
The transporter exonerated members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers of any involvement, saying: “I totally don’t agree that any member of the NURTW or anybody that is associated with them has anything to do with this.
“It will be highly irresponsible of me to say such; I don’t believe they are part of it; I have never heard of it, and I don’t want to go there’’.
He said that the incident was capable of discouraging prospective investors and urged the state government to curb the excesses of hoodlums.
“If we want private sector to create jobs, we cannot have this kind of incidence in the country because the whole world is seeing it.
“We cannot continue to destroy private properties like this; nobody would want to invest his money if we continue this way.’’
He said the company would not be deterred by the incident in its resolve to provide efficient transport services for the residents of Lagos.
NAN reports that the company has 434 buses in its fleet.
Some of the vandalised buses are coded 07, 382, 146, 213, 127, 376, 229, 286, 157, 216, 048, 311, 020, 050, 031, 118, 091, 055, 031, 151, 238,377, were seen parked at the said depot.
Others include 240, 262, 226, 322, 050, 143, 053, 320, 342, 078, 067, 030, 041, 013 and 347.