From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Following an alleged high tariff imposed by Anambra State Government, commercial drivers on weekend reportedly went on protest with a resolve to fight the revenue collectors, if the government failed to cancel the high tariff.
Fielding questions from this reporter at a private motor park within Onitsha’s main market axis, the spokesman of the drivers, Chief Patrick Okeke, disclosed that sacked touts who were non-drivers were given permits to collect revenue from drivers from both private and public markets and motor parts, disregarding Private/Government Partnership in revenue collection.
“I am a heavy-duty truck driver and we carry goods to and from Anambra State to other States. How can Anambra State Government impose high tariffs on us without our consent?
“That is why on Friday, we downed tools, others downed tools early this week but today we follow suit, even those who load and unload goods are not left out as they are also levied for their services and so they joined us in the strike.
“Private markets and parks are managed by the owners, so long as they pay the agreed amount to the government. That is the Public Private Partnership. Touts coming to manage markets will cause crises in the markets. The fact that those given the permits to collect revenue paid an exorbitant amount to the government will not warrant the traders and drivers to be taxed heavily.
“Our members who are carrying goods from other States to Anambra now divert to Asaba, Delta State and Aba, Abia State, because of the high tariff imposed on us by Anambra State Government.
“Funny enough, those given the permits to collect levy from us are touts, we know them. We will fight them if they continue to demand money from us again.
“It is these touts that work against the restoration of peace in the markets, parks and roads. Soon Government will begin to hear of drivers being beaten up by the revenue collectors because they are the same touts sacked by the government. I wonder if the Government doesn’t know that these people are interested in their private pockets,” he said.
On the alleged arrest of some market leaders by the DSS personnel while in a meeting with government on the same high tariff, with a view to finding a solution, he said that whoever that might have advised for the arrest of the market leaders did not want the progress of Anambra State.
“Whoever suggested the arrest of the market leaders does not bear the interest of the traders and Anambra State at heart. It was a bad piece of advice. I heard the traders are threatening to protest the arrest,” he said.