Pandemonium broke out in Ajao Estate axis of Lagos State when an unidentified commercial driver set himself ablaze while trying to prevent officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) from impounding his vehicle in the state.
The driver embarked on the suicide mission after the LASTMA officials allegedly stopped his vehicle for an alleged traffic offense and all efforts to make the traffic management officers understand his plight as well as reprimand him and allow him to leave proved abortive.
While still trying to explain his plight, two LASTMA officials were said to have dragged him out of the vehicle and started the ignition for onward movement of the car to their base in Oshodi.
Realising that he would have to face the Lagos State Mobile Court, the driver, according to eyewitnesses, the driver bath himself with a Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) and struck a stick of matches, hoping that the action would save the vehicle from being impounded.
While efforts was on to put out the fire, other commercial bus drivers and conductors, including passers-by, started hauling stones at the LASTMA officials, a development that degenerated into a fight between the officials and hoodlums within the community.
As the clashes intensified, several motorists abandoned the route in fears to avoid injuries and subjecting their vehicles to vandalism.
An eyewitness, who did not want his name in print, said: “The LASTMA officials were attacked because they never cared about the victim that was on fire. Rather, they were more interested in moving the vehicle away. The driver was eventually rushed to the hospital. Other drivers around said the victim lost his job last year and just got the commercial bus last November.”
Another commercial bus driver said: “LATSMA officials are treating us like slaves. LASTMA arrestS and extort us at will. We go through hell in their hands and those of agberos and local government officials. How much do we make?
“Out of the money we make daily, we will buy fuel, return money to the vehicle owners, and at the end of the day we are left with little or nothing. We are appealing to the state government to wade into the matter and save us from the hands of LASTMA officials.”
Normalcy was later restored following the intervention of policemen attached to Rapid Response Squad, RRS, who were deployed by their Commander, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi, to save the situation from turning bloodier, as the LASTMA officials were rescued.