Maduako Igbokwe l Thursday, September 22, 2022
AWKA, Anambra – Hundreds of commuters were stranded in Awka the Anambra state capital on Thursday as commercial tricycle and shuttle buses operators protested against Governor Charles Soludo’s imposition of N25,000, N15,000 levies, which will force operators to starve themselves to be able to pay the levy.
The protesting tricycle and shuttle bus operators blocked all the major roads and streets in the state capital, following operation show receipt of payment for the N15,000 and N25, 000 monthly revenue respectively imposed on them Governor Charles Soludo.
The protesters who blocked Ziks Avenue, the major road leading to Eke Awka daily market called on Governor Soludo to review downward the N25, 000 for shuttle buses and N15, 000 for tricycle operators monthly revenue imposed on them.
They accused their leadership of allegedly working with the state government to impose the revenue on them without exhausting negotiation on the said revenue.
They lampooned Anambra State government for being insensitive to their hardship and other economic realities. According to the operators ,the levies are outrageous and that they would have to starve themselves and their families to be able to pay.
Enforcement of the levy at the busy Aroma/State Secretariat junction as well as Unizik Temp Site junction along the dual carriage Awka-Enugu-Onitsha forced many tricycle and shuttle operators to desert the area leaving commuters stranded.
During the raid by taskforce, several tricycles and buses were seized from the operators and taken to the designated head office.
Investigations showed that both the tricycle and shuttle bus operators have defaulted in payment of the levy for two months, following series of consultations and meeting between members of the various transport unions and stakeholders and the governor.
Last week Wednesday, officials of the state government, leadership and members of the Tricycle Operators Association of Nigeria !TOAN) met at the Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre Awka to fine-tune strategies on the payment plan for the N15, 000 monthly revenue which according to the state government must be paid in one full instead of N600 daily.
Governor Soludo through his Special Adviser on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Hon. Isaac Okoro during the meeting promised effective security and safety of all the tricycle operators, assuring them of steps to construct and repair all the deplorable link and major roads across the state.
A commuter who gave his name as Osita Okafor in reaction said he was forced to trek from his house at Ifite road to Aroma on foot due to non availability of the tricycle operators.
“As you can see, I am just coming out to Aroma now and why I came out late to where I was going was because of the protest by Keke (tricycle) operators over the said N15,000 monthly revenue they are to pay to the state government. The situation as one can see is too bad because it will add to the already worsening socio-economic situation in both the state and the country.”
“The government should try to review its tax system and ensure that governance and government wear a human face. God forbids anything worse happens and these operators decide to increase fares. Again, the roads are too bad and everyone is suffering, the hard economic situation bites everybody. The process of food stuffs and every other thing across the nation are tough,” he added.
A tricycle rider who gave his name simply as Godwin said “The monthly revenue of N15,000 on each operator is too much and not everyone can afford to pay it. We have our individual responsibilities and challenges. For example, majority of our members are on hire purchase schedule of between N25, 000 per month and above. This is aside weekly maintenances of our tricycles, payment of house rent, school fees, high cost of per litre of petrol, electricity bills and other domestic problems.”
He urged the state government to reason with the operators by scaling down the new revenue regime to at least N5,000 or N10,000 at most so they can conveniently pay and be able to take care of their families and as well as other personal responsibilities.
As at the time of this report, the tricycle operators have deserted their parks at Regina Celi on both ends of Awka-Enugu-Onitsha expressway and Ziks Avenue, Aroma location, Unizik’s Temporary Junction, Ifite, Abakiliki junction, Ukwu Orji and Amawbia roundabout areas.