Passengers using the buses of the Transport Company of Anambra State, TRACAS, were last Sunday frustrated when they arrived at the park only to find out that none of the buses was ready for business. This is no thanks to the strike action embarked upon by drivers of the company owing to grievances against the management, report Jude Atupulazi and Mercy Hill.
Fides learnt that as early as 5:30 am, the drivers of the company had downed tools in protest against what they said was the management’s failure to address several issues encountered by drivers occasioned by the ‘unfavourable policies’ of their employers.
According to the secretary of the Drivers Union of the company, Mr Ogbonnaya Ejike, those policies had not augured well for the drivers and despite their continued representations to the management, nothing had been done to alleviate their plight. This, he said, led the drivers to embark on the strike that Sunday, September 9.
Ejike alleged that the accumulated issues between the drivers and TRACAS officials were caused by incessant levies the drivers were asked to pay by the past and present administrations.
He said the problem began from 2016 when they had a different administration. According to him, drivers then were asked to pay huge sums of money for speed limiter installation.
‘The drivers met their own part of the bargain by paying the stated amount, but the management did not fulfill their own part of the bargain. The issue lingered to the present administration without receiving any proper attention.
‘Not considering the state of the drivers, the present administration also levied the drivers on the same speed limiter installation. More so, what stirred up the strike last Sunday was that the management deducted 50% from the drivers’ pay,’ Ejike said.
He also complained that, as TRACAS drivers, they were entitled to welfare which included accommodation and other logistics, those had been deprived them. He said this had forced the drivers to sleep in their buses in the night and defecate in the bush, while bathing in the open early in the morning each day.
Ejike also complained of infringement of their right to freedom of association, following the embargo on the drivers against forming a union by the management.
He told Fides that a meeting was held between the drivers and the management last Monday, September 10, to deliberate on issues that concerned the drivers and the management, with the management promising to work on the issues raised by the drivers. This, he said, led the drivers to suspend the strike while hoping that the management would keep their promise.
This is the third time drivers of TRACAS would embark on a strike as they had previously done so at the Abuja and Lagos branches earlier this year over the same complaints.
Some stranded passengers who spoke to Fides on condition of anonymity expressed anger at the strike, pointing out that it was something that could force passengers to patronize other companies.
Before the meeting with the management last Monday, the drivers alleged that a letter they wrote to the management remained unreplied for two weeks.
Ejike who conceded that the management was doing their best, however urged them to expeditiously look into their issues to avert future problems.
When Fides sought the reaction of the management of TRACAS, they declined to talk.