Joe Effiong, Uyo
Mini-bus drivers, yesterday, took to the streets of Uyo, Akwa Ibom, to protest attempts by National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) members to reintroduce daily ticket in the state.
Daily Sun learned that the state government has reversed its decision so that the drivers could pay half of the daily levy they used to pay before the palliative.
It was also learnt that many of the drivers were allegedly arrested by the police who equally blocked some major roads such as Ikot Ekpene, Oron, Wellington Bassey Way, Ikpa and adjoining streets leading to the city centre, popularly known as Ibom Plaza to prevent violent escalation of the protest.
Commuters heading to the plaza area were subjected to trekking long distances since the drivers had withdrawn their services pending resolution of the problem and release of their members allegedly arrested.
A driver, one John Akparawa, speaking with newsmen in Uyo, said the drivers were protesting the sales of tickets by NURTW and a state task force because the government has already given them a tax holiday.
According to him, some policemen accompanied by members of the task force were seen arresting some protesting drivers while others fled the scene.
Commissioner for Transport, Uno Etim Uno, is yet to respond to the protest.
Akwa Ibom Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Fredrick Nnudam, in a telephone interview, said the state police command was aware of the protest, though he could not confirm any arrest of protesting drivers.
“If they are protesting peacefully, there would be no need to arrest them, but if they were protesting violently to the extent of such affecting public peace, then police have to effect arrest to restore order and sanity in the society,” Nnudam said.
The PPRO said more policemen have been mobilised to the plaza area and other parts of the town to forestall a possible hijack of the protest by hoodlums.