Truck drivers operating under the aegis of Heavy Duty and Haulage Transport Association of Nigeria (HDHTAN) have complained about what they say is frequent harassment and extortion in the hands of government agencies in South-East, South-South and other parts of the country.
The truckers said that such extortions and harassment involved the government operatives collecting illegal state levies on federal highways.
HDHTAN National President Mr Emmanuel Osigbeme, who spoke to journalists in Owerri, the Imo State capital, described multiple taxations against members of the association as a worrisome trend.
He alleged that the extortions were happening in violation of the law stipulating that trucks should only make payments at points of loading and offloading.
‘This is uncalled for because the law and the recent presidential order stipulate that truck drivers should only make payments at the points of loading and offloading. Instead of collecting money at the stipulated points, they come out to the federal highways extorting money from our drivers and the ones that refuse to pay are beaten up mercilessly like common criminals,’ Osigbeme said
‘In the South-East and some South-South states, such illegal practice is very tormenting because our people are losing thousands of money in the process. The drivers are extorted between N20,000 and N30,000 on highways.
‘In the bid by these government agencies to extort money from our members, they end up butchering our members and destroying our trucks and goods therein.
‘We’ve had cases where our drivers have driven into the bush while others were thrown down in their bid to dodge these people. Some times, they end up having accidents that have led to deaths of our members as a result of the chase on our drivers.’
Osigbeme said that the association had written several times to the states concerned, noting that only Lagos and Edo States have been able to address the problems and allow their trucks to move unharassed in those states.
‘However, the situation is still more rampant in such states as Abia, Enugu, Imo and Rivers. We’ve done a series of letters to the attorneys-general and the boards of internal revenue of the affected eastern States, but the problem still persists,’ he complained.