Withdraws service in Onitsha
By Chimaobi Nwaiwu – Nnewi
Vehicular and human movement was on saturday afternoon grounded to a halt in Onitsha following a protest by the tricycles operators in the commercial city, under the aegis of Tricycle Owner Association of Nigeria, TOAN.
The protest followed the alleged stabbing of a tricycle operator on Awka road Onitsha by a revenue collector, and collection of diverse illegal levies from the tricycle operators, who claim ho home with nothing after their daily work, while fake revenue agents who claim to work for the government, enjoy the fruit of their labour.
The protest which started at about 12.30 pm Saturday afternoon, saw the aggrieved tricycle operators blocking all the road leading to and exiting Onitsha, Main Market, Awka road, New Cemetary road, Old Cemetary road, Old Enugu road, and other exit and entry roads into Onitsha.
Resident of Onitsha and millions of customers from within and outside the state who wanted to use Saturday to so some shopping after spending from Monday yo Thursday to sit-at-home, where made to trek long distances entering and exiting Onitsha following the withdraw of service by tricycle operators.
Addressing newsmen spokesman and one of the Coordinators for the protest, David Emmanuel, said that they have take enough humiliation from both legal and illegal revenue collectors in the state, adding that they spend between N4,500 N8,000 on the revenue collectors apart from the N350 daily dues they pay to the Anambra State government.
According to Emmanuel, “We wondered why even after such money is collected from us, they beat and wound, you dare not question their identity and several complain we made to the Anambra State Ministry of Transport and the Chairman of Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria, TOAN, Anambra State Chapter, Comrade Sylvester Obiora did not yield any result.
“We pay money to a group, before you move an inch, another group will stop you and if you ask they who are they will start beating you, using all types of weapons against you, that is one of the causes of today’s protest, they have killed and given life threatening injuries to our members just because we want to know who we are giving our money.
We give money to people we don’t know who they are working for, all they know is for you to give them money, that is not covered by receipt, and some operate with receipts we do not know their source.
“Do you know that Marker Pen is used to collect money from tricycle operators in Anambra State, a genuine agent use receipt to collect money, you give him money and he gives you receipt, but in Anambra State, particularly, Onitsha, people use Marker pen, and tick good or sign signature on the windscreen of your tricycle and collect between N300 to N500 per trip depending on the route you ply.
“We are fade up and don’t go home with anything after daily settling of both legal and legal revenue agents, we will not leave the roads until government come and address and hear us, they pretend not to know what we are going through because it is the monster they created that is working against us.
“We are practically working for the criminal revenue agents who hide under working for government to extort all sums of money from us. We are busy working, toiling under the sun and rain and illegal revenue agents are forcefully collecting our money and drinking beer in our presence with our money.
“They dress better than us, they wear the beat shirts and shoes with money they forcefully collect from us. Today we say enough is enough and we will not accept their intimidation, harassment and in most cases killing of our members any longer.”
The protesting tricycle operators used mega phone to drive round Onitsha, announcing to parents and relations of the revenue touts to warn them to vacate the roads and streets of Onitsha, saying that from next Monday, any one they see on the road will be lynched.
They also took their announcement to Onitsha Main Market and other markets in Onitsha, where they said their warning against revenue touts will circulate faster.
Contacted State Media Coordinator of TOAN, Uzir A.Uzir, confirmed that the people protesting are their members and they have been complaining about intimidation and harassment by both legal and illegal revenue agents in Onitsha.
According to Uzor, said that the Chairman of TOAN, has constituted a tax force committee to stop the extortions the members have been going through. We discovered that their complain is genuine and that was why the chairman came up with the committee.
“We have got information about the activities of the woman operating a team of revenue collector at Savoy area of Awka road, we are monitoring her and her agents, they will soon be apprehended.”