Tricycle operators protest in Anambra over killings, extortion
By Nwafor Okafor
Scores of tricycle operators in Anambra State on Wednesday protested alleged extortion, harassment and incessant killings of their members in the state.
They blocked the road to the House of Assembly and the judiciary complex on the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, the state capital,while carrying placards of different inscriptions.
Speaking, the coordinator, Awka North and South Keke Drivers Welfare forum, Osita Obi, listed the levies the tricycle operators to illegal sources to include end of year party fee of N4,500, ID card renewal of N3,500, State Management Code of N8,000, among others.
He said, “A lot of people have been killed in this town because of who gets what from Keke revenue. We don’t want it again. The keke drivers are tired of leadership imposition and want to be allowed to operate independently.
“That many of them can’t afford living in good houses, sending their children to good schools and wearing good clothes doesn’t mean they’re not making money. But cultists engaged as by government as revenue collectors are milking them dry.
“We want to state clearly that if anything should happen to any of these drivers or to the speaker, people should hold the government responsible. We expect government to intervene.
“The Keke drivers are willing to pay legitimate government revenues, but obnoxious revenues will no longer be tolerated.
“I’ve met Transport Commissioner several times on these issues, but he feigned ignorance, but I’m sure he’s aware. I’m not doing this to run any government official down, but to restore sanity in the system. Enough of this exploitation and harassment.
“I’m using this opportunity to thank the police and the DSS for providing us security during this protest . We also congratulate the Governor-elect, Prof. Soludo because we believe that as a man with an independent mind he will not tolerate all these nonsense.
One of the protesters, Emeka Eze blamed failure to conduct election to replace the existing tricycle operators leadership in the state as the reason behind the crisis in the union.
“I’m an HND holder from Kaduna State Polytechnic, Zaria. I ventured into this business so as to be financially independent
“We want the state government to compel the leadership to conduct a fresh election so we can assume leadership and be in charge of our affairs.
“When the election is democratically conducted, those extorting us would be removed from office.
Reacting, the state government said it would deal decisively with any official found extorting tricycle operators in the state.
In a public service announcement by the permanent secretary, ministry of transport, Dr Emman Ude- Ukpeh on the Wednesday, the state government urged the tricycle operators to report such offenders to the ministry.
The statement read in part, “The attention of the Ministry of Transport has been drawn to increasing cases of alleged attempt by some persons claiming to be officials of Tricycle (keke) Union in the State to compel tricycle riders to pay certain levy for End of Year Party/Get-together.
“The Ministry wishes to state that while members of recognised/registered transport unions in the state have the right to meet and agree on the conduct of such social activities/events, members who elect not to participate in such must never be compelled to participate or pay any levy to that effect by anyone whether Union official or not.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Ministry of Transport shall deal decisively with any tricycle union official, representative(s) or agent(s) found to be compelling tricycle riders who chose not to participate in the ”End of Year party” by impounding their tricycles or manhandling the riders.
“The Ministry therefore requests any rider being compelled to pay any levy for End of Year Party/Get-together to immediately report via sms, whatsapp message or even video to the Ministry’s Traffic Command and Control Centre (TCCC) on 09065820149 for immediate response and arrest of the culprits.
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