National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, said it is prepared to fight the Road Transport Employee Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, to a standstill in Nsukka, Enugu State.
NURTW, with about 120 commercial buses and shuttle taxi drivers, organised a peaceful protest to reject the revenue collection by RTEAN.
But for the quick intervention of the police, the crisis over collection of ticket levy would have resorted to bloodshed between the two groups at Nsukka main motor park.
A source, who witnessed the averted clash, said it took the intervention of the police to calm frayed nerves.
“If not for the timely intervention of the police, there would have been a bloodbath today at the park,” the source said.
Some inscriptions on the placards displayed during the protest include, “We say no to members of RTEAN, “We have the right to choose the association we will belong to, etc.”
Addressing journalists on the incident, Chairman of Nsukka Commercial Bus and Shuttle Drivers, Mr. Chika Ozioko, said after a meeting with his members, they unanimously rejected being members of RTEAN since they belong to the NURTW, the body that regulates and controls activities of drivers in the country.
“We, drivers in Nsukka town and its environs, say no to the membership of RTEAN. We will resist any anybody who forces us into belonging to an association that we have nothing to benefit from,” he said.
Ozioko said drivers’ took the decision after series of meetings, as well as consultations with the Enugu State Chairman of NURTW, Mr. Matthew Asogwa, who told us that the only union approved by the Trade Union Act for commercial drivers is NURTW.
“Since the state NURTW chairman said RTEAN is illegal, we, drivers in Nsukka, also say no to the association. Is it this little money that we make in a day that we will use to pay dues and buy emblems from two unions?“ he queried.
He alleged that it was a former state Chairman of NURTW, Mr. Joseph Ugwu, who conspired with RTEAN to extort money from commercial drivers in Nsukka.
“We were told that it is the former state chairman that is conspiring with this people called RTEAN to come and extort money from drivers in Nsukka,” he said.
Reacting, Ugwu described the allegation as baseless, unfounded and false, adding that he opposed RTEAN in all ramifications in Enugu State when he was the state chairman.
“During my tenure as chairman, I ensured that no driver in the state joined or registered with 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 baseless, unfounded and untrue,“ he said.
When contacted, the state chairman of NURTW said he was the one who told the drivers to resist any attempt by RTEAN to force them into joining the union, as the NURTW is 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 the state and national headquarters of NURTW do not recognise it. I have written to security agencies and the Enugu State Government about this people called RTEAN who go to 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 it does so at his own risk.” he said.

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