The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) has said it was prepared to fight Road Transport Employee Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) to a standstill over revenue collection.
With about 120 commercial bus and shuttle taxi drivers carrying placards the NURTW trooped out in a peaceful protest to reject the revenue collection by RTEAN.
The Daily Times gathered that but for police quick intervention the crisis over collection of ticket levy would have caused bloodshed between the two bodies at Nsukka park.
According to an observer “it took the intervention of the police to calm down the frayed nerves”.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards included, “We say No to being members of RTEAN”, “We have the right to choose the association we will belong to.”
Speaking to newsman the Chairman of Nsukka Commercial Bus and Shuttle Drivers, Mr. Chika Ozioko, said that after a meeting by his members, they unanimously rejected membership of RTEAN, since they belonged to NURTW the body that regulated and controlled activities of drivers in the country.
“We, the drivers in Nsukka town and its environs, say no to membership of RTEAN. We will resist any anybody who wants to force us into belonging to an association that we have nothing to benefit from,” he said.
Ozioko said that drivers took the decision after holding a meeting, as well as consulting with the Enugu state chairman of NURTW, Mr. Matthew Asogwa, “who told us that the only union approved by trade union act for commercial drivers is NURTW.”
“Since the state chairman said no RTEAN because it is illegal, we, the drivers in Nsukka, also say no RTEAN.
“Is it this little money we make in a day, that we will use to be paying dues and buying emblems from two unions,” he queried.
He alleged that it was the former state chairman of NURTW, Mr. Joseph Ugwu, who conspired with RTEAN to come and extort money from commercial drivers in Nsukka
“We were told it was the former state chairman that was conspiring with this people called RTEAN to come and extort money from drivers in Nsukka,” he said.
Reacting, Ugwu described the allegation as unfounded and false, adding that he opposed RTEAN in all ramifications in Enugu State when he was the state chairman.
“During my regime as state chairman, I ensured that no driver in the state joined or registered in RTEAN
“As far as Nigeria is concerned NURTW is the only legal union for commercial drivers in the country.
“What drivers in Nsukka are saying is unfounded and untrue because they are misinformed,” he said.
When contacted, the state chairman of NURTW (Asogwa) said he was the one who told the drivers to resist any attempt by RTEAN to force them into joining its union as the NURTW was the only approved union for drivers in the country.
“I am aware of the protest. I told them to carry out a peaceful protest to say no to RTEAN in Nsukka as both the state and national headquarters of NURTW do not recognise RTEAN.
“I have written to security agencies, and the Enugu State Government about this people called RTEAN going in various parks molesting and trying to force my drivers to join them.
“I have made it clear to all commercials bus drivers and transporters in the state that NURTW does not recognise RTEAN, so any driver that joins RTEAN does so at his own risk.” he said.