The recent suspension of some taxes by Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano to cushion the effect of the economic recession on low income earners has pitched campus Bus drivers with revenue agents.
Members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) had staged a protest marched on the Enugu-Onitsha expressway in Awka at the weekend over alleged extortion by officials of the Anambra government.
The protesters carried placards with various inscription, including ‘students reject illegal tolls’, Gov. Obiano save our soul’, and `Students back Obiano on abolition of illegal levies’ among others.
Addressing newsmen, the National Financial Secretary of the association, Mr Ikechukwu Okorie, said that drivers of shuttle buses at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, who were registered with the association, were beaten up for not paying toll which have been abolished by the governor.
Okorie said the understanding was that buses which were branded in NANS colours were immune from the government’s tolls and wondered why the government officials insisted they paid.
“We can no longer accept a situation where our drivers are forced to buy tickets and beaten up when they refuse to do so.
“This is happening under the collusion of the state revenue office who are using some people to make life difficult for us and the governor has said no to illegal tolls,” he said.
In another development, the Coordinator of Anambra Shuttle Bus Drivers Welfare Association, Mr Onyebuchi Okeke, said shuttle busses were not among the category exempted from paying toll as claimed.
He said tricycles operators and Barrow pushers were the only people exempted from paying toll in the state.
Okeke also decried the practice of campus branded buses operating all routes in the state, when they are supposed to operate within the campus to the nearest bus terminus in town.
He said the students’ buses were now ferrying market women, civil servants and the general public which the city shuttles should take care of.
“First of all, I must say the Anambra government does not have anything to do with what the students are talking about; my association is the group the students have problem with.
“How can students’ buses be going everywhere in the town and even to the villages to carry passenger without obeying the rules in those places?
“Our stand is that they should stick to their jurisdiction and we won’t come to them but if they must come to town they must buy our tickets because they are competing with our members,” he said.