e-Hailing task force members are not touts- AUATON clarifies position of its enforcement body

Ejike Kanife
some e-hailing drivers complained that the term ‘task force’ in Nigeria usually connotes brutish enforcers accosting people and extorting them
‘e-Hailing task force members are not touts’: AUATON clarifies position of its enforcement body
Members of the AUATON task force

Following the investiture of its task force, the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian e-hailing union, the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON) has pointed out that the task force wasn’t established to act as touts. AUATON Lagos Public Relations Officer, Steven Iwindoye disclosed this during a chat with Technext.

Quizzed about fears expressed by some e-hailing drivers that the term ‘task force’ in Nigeria usually connotes brutish enforcers accosting people and extorting them, Mr Iwindoye said on the contrary the task force was set up to protect drivers and dispatch riders from such instances.

This task force is specifically set up to fight for dispatch riders and e-hailing drivers. Don’t worry, they will not be out to tear tickets for members. We are not agbero,” he told Technext.

He went on to reiterate that in a union setting like the AUATON, the task force body plays the crucial role of representing and advocating for the interests of the union members. Thus, the primary duty of a task force is to address specific issues and tasks assigned to them by the union.

See also: API integration with Lagos government will guarantee safety and levy collection- Weyinmi Aghadiuno, Bolt’s Head of Policy

AUATON task force might be response to recent travails

The Lagos State Council of the AUATON carried out its task force investiture ceremony on April 30th 2024. This was just weeks after officials of the Lagos state ministry of transportation impounded vehicles of e-hailing drivers working on the Uber platform for an offence committed by the e-hailing company. This didn’t sit well with the union which had sent delegates to the state government to demand the immediate release of the impounded vehicles.

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That situation was one of many instances when the state council would have to interfere in matters relating to drivers, whether officially registered with the union or not. To this effect, the state council decided to establish a task force to handle these situations. The force is led by Commander Awero.

But the establishment of the task force has also been met with some degree of scepticism as some drivers wonder what the true purpose of such a task force really is. For instance, Great, an e-hailing driver, said:

Honestly I don’t think there are any good intentions behind this because, to be honest with ourselves we all know the kind of victimisation and intimidation when it comes to the issue of anything ‘force’ in Nigeria to others. We are not mature enough to handle such and I don’t think it is necessary in this our field as far as I am concerned.”

Another driver, Osemhen said: “I think it’s early to come with a task force while we are still trying to gain good balance. Although it depends on the roles and duties we intend to assign to them.”

Responding to this, the AUATON Lagos PRO pointed out that some key roles and duties of the Lagos State task force include representing the concerns, needs, and demands of the union members to the management or relevant stakeholders by acting as a voice for the members to ensure their interests are taken into account during negotiations or discussions.

Narrating the story of a member who was arrested and exploited by officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA)  and how the force was able to get him out of the situation, Iwindoye also said the force would be responsible for negotiating and bargaining with the authorities on behalf of the union members and strive to achieve favourable terms for them.

He also noted that the force is tasked with identifying and solving issues faced by the union members, analyzing problems related to workplace conditions, discrimination, safety, or any other concerns raised by the members, and working towards finding effective solutions and implementing necessary changes.

A motorcycle association task force

The enforcement body also engages in outreach activities to recruit new members, raise awareness, and build solidarity within the App-based workforce. It also participates in the development and review of union policies and procedures while contributing its expertise and insights to ensure that the policies reflect the interests and values of the union members.

Ultimately, they also monitor the implementation of these road users’ policies to ensure compliance while organising workshops, training sessions, or informational campaigns to enhance the members’ understanding of their rights, responsibilities, and benefits of union membership. This, the union believes, helps in building a strong and informed membership base.

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