JOS Nigeria (Reuters) – Six people have died in clashes between security forces and motorcycle-taxi drivers in the central Nigerian city of Jos where hundreds were killed in religious violence this year, witnesses said on Wednesday.
The latest violence first erupted on Monday when a military taskforce tried to enforce a ban on taxis bikes and then flared on Wednesday as hundreds of riders made bonfires in the streets of Jos, capital of Plateau state, residents said.
The clashes were not directly linked to the bouts of fighting between Christian and Muslim mobs early this year, they said.
A Reuters witness saw four bodies being prepared for burial at the central mosque in Jos on Wednesday, while a Muslim leader said another man injured in the clashes later died at a military hospital in the city.
Plateau state Police Commissioner Gregory Anyatingo told Reuters by telephone that a officer who was stabbed by rioters while he was returning from work on Monday died on Wednesday.
Police confirmed the clashes but denied that there were any deaths. Hundreds of bikes were impounded and at least two riders charged to court, officers said.
The Plateau state government imposed the ban in April, but the police who only attempted to enforce it this week, met with stiff resistance from the riders, most of them jobless youths.
A number of states in Africa’s most populous country have either out rightly banned or restricted taxis bikes, accusing the drivers of aiding crime in the cities where many see them as a cheaper way to get around congested and chaotic streets.
But the number of motorcycle taxis in Nigerian cities has grown rapidly in the last few years as the unemployment rate in Africa’s second biggest economy spiraled and fatal crashes are common as most of the drivers are untrained and illiterate.
Around 5,000 people die on Nigerian roads every year and about 20,000 are injured, with almost every collision involving a biker, data from the Federal Road Safety Commission shows.