Mechanics and automobile technicians in Lagos marched to the Lagos State House of Assembly Tuesday to protest the demolition of their workshops by the state government.
The workers, members of the Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association (NATA), Lagos chapter, decried the forceful seizure of mechanic villages across the state and converting them for personal use or gain.
‘We want our mechanic villages back,’ ‘Leave our mechanic village alone’, ‘COVID-19 is not killing us, Lagos government is killing us’, the workers chanted as they marched to the House of Assembly.
The workers called on the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to save them from hardship and stop his cabinet members from selling their yards and workshops.
“Lagos Lands Bureau, Lagos Ministry of Physical Planning, Stop this Inhumanity,’ ‘Leave Owutu Mechanic Village Alone,’ ‘Destroying People’s Livelihoods Contribute to Crime and Insecurity, Stop It,’ some of the protesters’ placards read.
The protest kicked off around 10:30 a.m. after hundreds of the mechanics converged on Allen Bus-stop, Ikeja, with several others trickling in.
The mechanics took over the road from Allen to the state secretariat, a nearly five kilometres distance, grounding vehicular movement.
During the protest, the mechanics called for the removal of Toyin Fayinka, the special adviser to the state governor on transportation.
“Fayinka must go! Fayinka is a thief,” the workers kept chanting in their number.
“Toyin Fayinka has turned his position as special adviser on transportation to the governor to that of land grabber and speculator; Fayinka must go,” one of the placards reads.
The chairperson of NATA in Lagos, Jacob Fayeun, said the workers have suffered so much injustice in the hands of the present administration as many of their workshops are being taken from them.
“It was during the Alhaji Lateef Jakande’s administration in Lagos in 1981 that we were allotted mechanic clusters known as mechanic villages to curb the menace of the problematic ‘roadside mechanics’ littering Lagos neighbourhoods before that time.
“Unfortunately, since 1999, these public spaces, many of them in difficult marshy areas and canal setbacks redeveloped by the mechanics at great expense are being systematically stolen by government officials under pretext.
Also the General Secretary of the association, Aremu Adekunle said “We have delivered our letter to the offices of the governor and the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly. They promised to get back to us. We came to protest the eviction of our people from their various workshops. We have issues at Surulere, Kosofe, Maryland and Mushin presently. The mechanic village at Itelagba under the Surulere Local Government has been sold to an individual after our people were chased out of the place.
“When we first complained about it, they requested the sum of N50m within two weeks for us to escape eviction, but there is no way that mechanics can afford that. After a week, the task force came to eject our members from the workshops. These mechanics have been there for close to 20 years. The task force and hoodlums demolished the structures and towed away vehicles found in the workshops. They later sold the land for N300m. That is one of the reasons why we decided to make our voices heard today.”