There was confusion on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Lagos on Tuesday as commuter bus drivers protested alleged extortion by officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Taskforce) and council officials.
The protest grounded public transportation in the axis as the protesters reportedly whipped passengers inside few buses that defied the no-work order and the effects extended to other areas, leaving many passengers stranded at various bus stops, according to The Nation’s report.
Commuter bus operators last week also downed tools in the Ikotun and Igando areas of the state over allegations of extortion that led to the killing of one of their colleagues.
Commuters were forced to trek from Iyana-Isolo to Mile Two as the protesters ordered them off defiant vehicles.
At Cele Bus Stop, a bus driver and a commercial motorcyclist were injured by armed hoodlums who joined the protests.
A motorcyclist, who attempted to defy the stop- work order, was slashed on the hand with a machete by a thug as he sped off with his fare.
The Nation gathered that the protesters set up bonfires on the expressway, inward Oshodi and prevented commercial vehicles, motorcyclists from operating on both sides of the road.
But private vehicles and tricycles were not prevented from operating, a development that saw tricyclists increasing their fares by 50 per cent.
Passengers, who succeeded in boarding commercial vehicles or motorbikes, were ordered to disembark.
Most passengers were forced to trek long distances in order to meet up with their engagements.
Displaying placards with inscriptions such as “End LASTMA brutality” “End Taskforce wahala”, “End LASTMA blocking, blocking with Taskforce” and “End Taskforce in Lagos State”, the protesters chanted “No more Taskforce.”
According to them, the officials routinely and indiscriminately seize their vehicles and made them pay huge amount of money before they are released.
A bus driver, who gave his name as “Sefiu” lamented his ordeal in the hands of the officials.
He said two of his buses were recently impounded “for no reason” by Taskforce officials.
“I paid N55, 000 to recover one of them. They are always harassing us. The road we follow to the airport has been blocked for repairs, yet when we follow the alternative route, which is one-way, they’ll arrest us,” he lamented.
Another protester, Kingsley, claimed they were being intimidated by government officials.
“Their wahala is too much. We want Governor Babajide (Sanwo-Olu) to help us,” he added.
Chibuike, who identified himself as a bus driver and member of the National Union of Road Transport Worker (NURTW), also accused the officials of extortion.
He urged the state government to intervene.
Contacted for reaction, the Public Affairs Officer (PAO) of Taskforce, Femi Moliki, said no official of the agency operates between Toyota and Mile 2, adding that the agency was reorganising its operation to prevent illegal taskforce operatives in the metropolis.
Moliki said 16 suspects were arrested for allegedly taking advantage of the peaceful protest to carry out violence and rob commuters.
He said the miscreants were caught molesting passersby and destroying public facilities.
Weststar: Our dealers are lifeblood of Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria
Weststar Associates Limited says it remains committed to its dealers in Nigeria and will continue to do business with them.
Indeed, the auto firm described its five authorised Mercedes-Benz dealers in Nigeria as its lifeblood and listed them as Barbedos Cars Limited, M-B Automobile Services Limited, Skymit Motors Limited, Sunny Motors Limited and Tetralog Nigeria Limited
Weststar, an authorized general distributor of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Nigeria, was reacting to a statement by Mercedes-Benz of Germany of its plan to reduce its dealerships in some markets.
The auto firm reactng to this in a statement signed by its Marketing & Social Media Manager, Oluwatobi Abimbola, Weststar said it had been the “home of all things Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria for over 15 years. Running its operations as Mercedes-Benz’s representatives in Nigeria the company owes its success not only to a holistic business model and a great team of professionals but also more importantly, to its business partners.”
It also stated, “Weststar Associates Limited runs a dealership network across Nigeria that covers the different regions of the country & is held by successful and innovative companies who have a strong understanding of the business climate in their regions.
“Although the story of Weststar in Nigeria is only a decade and a half old, the story of Mercedes-Benz runs for even longer, with a presence in Nigeria for over 60 years. Many of our dealers have become the lifeblood of Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria.
“For decades, these companies have ensured that millions of Nigerians are able to gain access to the world’s most desirable Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Weststar’s key strategy remains to grow the Mercedes-Benz network in Nigeria using our dealerships. Weststar does not intend to cut ties with any of its Authorized Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Nigeria at this time.
“We will continue to promote and strengthen our dealerships as a means to grow the Mercedes-Benz brand in Nigeria.”
As Mercedes cuts dealerships, Nigerian traders may be axed
There is uncertainty over the fate of some Mercedes-Benz dealers in Nigeria operating through Weststar Associates Limited (the authorized distributor of Mercedes Benz in the country) as there are speculations that they may be sacked.
This follows international reports that Mercedes-Benz plans to reduce its dealerships by 10% worldwide, and up to 20% in the home market, Germany, by 2025, as it targets direct sales.
The prolific car manufacturer plan to hit 25 per cent online sales by 2025 as well as secure 80 per cent of European sales through its new direct sales model by 2025.
“We want to have more proximity to the customer and therefore have better control over pricing,” Mercedes chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm recently said.
“That’s why we are moving from the current dealer role.”
Weststar Associates Limited dealers in Nigeria who may be among those that may be affected by this new policy of Mercedes Benz include Skymit, Sunny Motors, Barbedos Cars, Mercedes Benz Centre and Tetralog.
However, when an official of Weststar Associates Limited was contacted by Transport Day, he promised to get back with an official position of the company concerning the matter, but Transport Day was yet to get the feedback as at the time of filling this report.
Mercedes-Benz currently has approximately 6,500 Mercedes and Smart sales and service outlets worldwide, and roughly 1,000 dealerships in Germany.
According to Bettina Fetzer, Vice president of communications and marketing, cuts to its global dealership will take place by 2025 while cuts in the German market will take place by 2028.
Founded in 2007, Weststar Associates Limited came into being after the official exit of Mercedes Benz representative office in Nigeria, following the disinvestment of the German company from Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO), Enugu.
Source: Transport Day
Latest seven-seater Range Rover SV unveiled for Nigerian market
Coscharis Motors has rolled out the all-new Range Rover SV, a seven-seater, for the Nigerian market.
The unveiling of the luxury sport utility vehicle, courtesy of Coscharis Motors, was done at the company’s office at Awoyaya, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos.
General Manager, Marketing/Corporate Communications, Coscharis Group, Abiona Babarinde, said the Range Rover SV is one of the most desirable models ever created by Land Rover.
The vehicle is said to have a distinctive design detail resulting in a form that speaks to modernity and the pinnacle of progressive luxury.
Giving specific special features of the new Range Rover, Marketing Manager, Jaguar Land Rover, Cletus Aregbesola, says the vehicle is well defined by aesthetic grace, sophistication and refinement.
According to him, Range Rover would not have anticipated designing a Range Rover with seven seats four years ago but that milestone has been successfully achieved with the new Range Rover.
Having seven seats, the marketing manager said, had not affected both the driver’s legroom and rear legroom.
He said, “It has a choice of Standard or Long Wheelbase body designs provides elevated luxury for five or seven adults, all delivered while retaining the unmistakeable Range Rover profile and Command Driving position.
“Range Rover’s imposing face communicates a character of unparalleled. And, for the first time on Range Rover, 23” wheels enhance the vehicle’s presence and supreme stature, contrasted by its reductive, modern detail”, he added.
Jaguar Land Rover Service Manager, Masimba Joseph Gwetsuro, speaks on the driving dynamics, saying the vehicle is provided with new 530PS (390kW) 4.4-litre V8 that produces maximum torque of 750Nm.
Gwetsuro says that it takes the Range Rover from 0-100km/h (0-60mph) in 4,6 (4,4) seconds.
The new 530PS (390kW) 4.4-litre V8 produces maximum torque of 750Nm.
He says, “With Dynamic Launch engaged, he declared that the vehicle has cleaner, more efficient mild hybrid technology available with a range of diesel and petrol engines.
“Range Rover features a modern and sophisticated interior, underpinned by its impeccable reductive nature, tactile materials and an intuitive approach to relevant technology. No detail has been overlooked. Nothing is for show.”
He says the new Range Rover is now available in all Coscharis showrooms across the country with prices ranging between N70 million and N200 million.
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