Tony Osauzo, Benin
A bloody clash between officials of Edo State Public Works for Volunteers (PUWOV) and commercial bus drivers triggered by the death of a commercial driver has resulted in injuries to many persons, bringing commercial activities to a halt at the popular New Benin Market and adjoining areas in Benin City.
One of the injured is said to be in coma at an undisclosed hospital where he and others were taken to for medical attention.
Trouble reportedly started when officials of PUWOV charged with regulating activities of commercial drivers, street trading, seized a commercial bus belonging to the dead driver who allegedly parked to load his vehicle in an unauthorised area.
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The PUWOV officials were alleged to have driven the bus away and the action angered the driver who was said to have approached them so that they could release the vehicle to him but all his pleading fell on deaf ears.
Sources at the scene said the driver out of frustration, stood in front of the bus as he prevailed on the task force members to release the bus to him but was coincidentally overrun by the bus which led to his death on the spot.
The driver’s tragic death reportedly triggered instant reaction from other drivers who quickly mobilised their colleagues and descended on the PUWOV officials in a bloody fight in which dangerous weapons such as iron bars, broken bottles and knives were freely used by both sides during the mayhem.
An official bus belonging to the task force was set ablaze at the centre of the road near Total Filling Station beside the market.
Following the fracas, parts of the market were shut for hours, as traders and market women quickly locked their shops fearing that the fight might escalate.
Commuters were also stranded as the New Lagos and Mission Roads were deserted, just as other motorists travelling to Lagos from the Eastern states, Ugbowo and other areas, made detours to avoid being trapped in the crisis which caused gridlock for hours.
Policemen from the New Benin Divisional station, Okhoro, Oba Market and the anti-riot squad from the state command in over 10 patrol vans were immediately deployed to quell the trouble and restore peace.