Extortion: Protesting tricycle operators ground commercial activities in Onitsha
January 23, 2022
Commercial activities were grounded in Onitsha, Anambra State as tricycle operators protested alleged extortion and brutality in the hands of touts and revenue collectors.
The group, known as Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria, also blocked major roads in the city on Saturday.
The protest also followed the alleged multiple stabbing of a tricycle operator on the Awka road by a revenue collector.
The group lamented that their sufferings in the hands of the touts were becoming unbearable and called on the state government to come to their rescue by deploying security personnel to the area.
The protest started about 12.30pm and lasted several hours while they blocked the Main Market road, Awka Road, New Cemetary Road, Old Cemetary Road, Old Enugu Road, and other exits and entry points into Onitsha.
Addressing journalists, the spokesman for the group, Mr David Emmanuel, said that they had taken enough humiliation from both legal and illegal revenue collectors in the state.
He added that they pay between N4,500 N8,000 to the revenue collectors apart from the N350 daily dues they pay to the Anambra State Government.
Emmanuel lamented that while they had nothing to show for their daily efforts, the revenue collectors and thugs smiled home with huge sums of money.
He said, “We wondered why even after such money is collected from us, they beat and wound us, you dare not question their identity. Several complaints we made to the Anambra State Ministry of Transport did not yield any result.
“We pay money to a group, before you move an inch, another group will stop you and if you question them, they would 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 don’t go home with anything after daily settling of both legal and illegal 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 these 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.”
Due to the protests, residents resorted to trekking to their various destinations as the situation led to a standstill on all the major roads.
The State Media Coordinator, TOAN, Mr Uzir Uzir, confirmed that the tricycle operators grievances were genuine and called on relevant authorities to look into their plight.
Efforts to get the reaction of the police spokesman, Mr Ikenga Tochukwu, proved abortive as he did not respond to messages sent to his phone as of the time of sending this report.
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