From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The group however gave federal and state governments 14 days ultimatum to dismantle all road blocks mounted by produce toll collectors on the roads whom they said forcefully collect money and beat them on the highways.
The Anambra State Chairman of ALBON Taskforce Mr. Uchenna Maduakor while briefing newsmen in Onitsha flanked by some luxury bus divers; Chukwuma Nwolisa of Osinachi Motors and Afamefuna Aboaja of Ifeanyoluchukwu Motors lamented that those boys always wielded weapons to attack drivers and passengers.
Maduakor said that within last year the suspected produce toll collectors had attacked some drivers, injuring them, smashing bus mirrors and glasses, adding that some time they beat drivers and allegedly rob vehicles in isolated areas.
While narrating their experiences on the roads they said “the Army, Police and Produce toll collectors disturbs us a lot causing hold-up on the highways. For instance a journey of four hours will take us eight hours. The problem is not even the money they collect from us but the delay and a times they will draw drivers down and beat them for no just cause.
“The recent experience was the day I was going to Taraba state, a G.U. Okeke bus that was coming back to Onitsha was robbed by the suspected Produce toll collectors. These produce collectors stay from pole to pole. We pay between 2000 to 5000 and even more. The worst part of the routes are Aliede to Gboko in Benue state and Abakaliki to Ogoja route in Ebonyi state.
“We are following Ebonyi state through Abakaliki to Ogoja to Benue state due to bad roads. That route is now impassable due to the menace of produce collectors who line up along the road. It was on that route that Ifeanyoluchukwu bus and Chukwudi bus were attacked and their busses were damaged.
“The people who normally attack us are not robbers they are produce toll collectors, they rob us in broad day light, collect all our monies and also rob passengers. They have road blocks village to village, pole to pole in Ebonyi route. We are calling on government to intervene and stop the attack on us.
“We pay revenue at the park where we loaded as luxury bus, not lorry buses but they will insist that we must pay them on the road and when we pay for instance N2000 they will tell you that it’s too small in the process they will beat up driver or smash the vehicle.
So, we cannot continue this way again if the government cannot remove them from the road, then we don’t have option than to protest by using our buses to block road until they moved out of the highway, how can we be working and some other people are eating the money. So, after making expense on the road you will go home empty handed.
“Can you imagine that most times due to fear of the produce toll collectors attack, luxury buses now go in convoy with police escort. They contributes money for police to escort them out of the bad routes, so for how long will this continue? We are not talking about armed robbers again but produce toll collectors who hide under produce to rob us and attack us on the highway” Maduakor lamented.