From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON) and its drivers have given the federal and state governments 14 days ultimatum to dismantle road blocks mounted by produce toll collectors in Benue and Ebonyi states.
The group said on expiration of the ultimatum they will block highways with their buses to protest extortion by suspected produce toll collectors on Benue and Ebonyi state roads.
ALBON task force Anambra State Chairman, Uchenna Maduakor, while briefing newsmen in Onitsha, flanked by some luxury bus divers; Chukwuma Nwolisa of Osinachi Motors and Afamefuna Aboaja of Ifeanyoluchukwu Motors, said the boys always wielded weapons to attack drivers and passengers.
Maduakor said last year, the toll collectors attacked some drivers, injured them, smashed bus mirrors and glasses, adding that they beat drivers and allegedly robbed vehicles in isolated areas.
They said: “Army, police and produce toll collectors disturb us a lot causing hold-up. For instance, a journey of four hours will take us eight hours. The problem is not even the money but the delay and beating of the drivers for no just cause.
“The people who normally attack us are not robbers, they are produce toll collectors, they rob us in broad day light, collect our money and also rob passengers. We are calling on government to intervene and stop the attack on us.
“We pay revenue at the park, but they will insist we must pay them on the road and when we pay, for instance, N2000, they will say it is too small and in the process, beat up the driver or smash the vehicle.
“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 the road, how can we be working and some other people eating the money.
“Can you imagine, most times, due to fear of produce toll collectors, luxury buses now go in convoy with police escort.
“They contribute money for police to escort them out of the bad routes. 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 said.