BY EMMA UNA
CALABAR — HUNDREDS of taxi drivers operating in Calabar, the Cross River State capital protested, yesterday, the high taxes imposed on them daily by the Calabar Municipality and Calabar South Local Governments Areas.
The taxi drivers who refused to ply the roads in the morning congregated at the Botanical Garden along Mary Slessor Avenue as early as 7 a.m from where they drove in a convoy to Senator Liyel Imoke’s office but were prevented by security men from gaining access to the place.
Mr Bassey Effanga, Chairman of Urban Taxi Drivers Union, told Vanguard that the protest was occasioned by the high levies imposed on his members daily by officials of the two local governments in the state capital, Calabar Municipality and Calabar South Local Government Area.
“Everyday, drivers are forced to pay N350 to officials of these two local government areas and the Department of Public Transportation but most of these drivers operate with old cars while others ply the road with cars procured on hire purchase and they often find it difficult to realize amounts they have to remit to owners of the cars.”
He said apart from the high levies, the two local government areas had instituted task forces to stop taxis from picking passengers along the road except at designated parks.
Special Adviser to Senator Liyel Imoke on Public Transportation, Mr Edem Ekong, who addressed the protesting drivers appealed to them to be peaceful and that he had scheduled a meeting with the chairmen of the two local government areas to warn them against arbitrary taxes on taxi operators.
He said: “The approved levy for every taxi driver is N200 which is split among the two local government areas and the DOPT. The DOPT takes N100 while the local government areas take N50 each and any other charge is not accepted.”
He told the taxi drivers to return to work and pay only the approved sum of N200 as levies and that anyone who demands more than that should be reported to him.