BY NWABUEZE OKONKWO
ONITSHA—Three transport groups in Imo State have given the state government seven days within which to stop all illegal extortion of their members by agencies of government or face violent demonstration and withdrawal of services from all the routes in the state.
The groups include General Goods Transporters Association of Nigeria, GGTAN, Nigeria Lorry Drivers Association, NILODA and Heavy Duty Truck Drivers Association, HDTDA
However, the government has described the extortionists as a cabal who had continued to deviate from the government policy on single revenue generation formula.
The lorry drivers had in a strongly worded petition to Okorocha, written on their behalf, by their legal counsel, Chief Joe Onuoha, shortly after their emergency meeting at their national headquarters in Onitsha, Anambra State, said the high level of extortion of their members plying Onitsha/Owerri/Port-Harcourt highway, by various Imo State Government Ministries is becoming unbearable to them.
In a petition addressed to the government, the groups said they had already issued a notice of strike to their members, if by the end of the seven-day ultimatum, the extortion did not stop.
They informed Okorocha that the illegal levies/taxes being forcefully extorted from their members inclu ded Imo State Economic Commission fee of N1,000; Imo State Ministry of Commerce-Agric-Forest and Haulage fee of N2,500 and Imo State Daily Ticket on Infrastructure Development fee of N5,000.
Others they mentioned were Imo State Ministry of Transport, MOT fee of N2,500; Imo State Ministry of Commerce and Industrial Goods Levy of N2,500; Imo State Ministry of Community Government, CGC Haulage Levy of N2,000; Imo State Environmental Transformation Commission, ENTRACO for daily heavy duty haulage fee permit N1,000.
Also included in the complaints were Keep Imo Clean daily ticket on infrastructure development for entry and exit tax of N5,000; Imo State Ministry of Transport and Aviation fee of N1,000; Imo State Ministry of Agriculture, Petroleum and Environment fee of 2,500, among other unreceipted levies/taxes.
They lamented that these levies/taxes were collected on federal highways by touts and agents of the state government, with the full support and backing of Okorocha’s commissioners.
They contended that such an extortion was contrary to Taxes and Levies Approved Lists for Collection Act (T.2) No. 21 of 1998 which did not allow government agents to be collecting multiple, .illegal levies/taxes on federal highways within Imo State.