BusinessDay

Commuters pay more as Edo drivers protest over extortion of levy, bad roads

Drivers of minibusses and taxis in Edo State on Monday protested over the alleged imposition of the N200 levy by the National Union of Road transport workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN).

BusinessDay reports commercial bus drivers plying Ring road to Ugbiyokho and upper Ekenwan road also protested over the deplorable road in the area.

The protest which lasted for more than three hours resulted in a hike in the cost of transport fares from the upper Ekenwan axis to Ring road.

Robert Edobor, one of the commuters who travel through the road regularly said its potholes and poor condition have made the roads impassable.

“This is a major road, which usually takes 10 minutes drive and costs N100 but today I paid N400 to get to the city center. Prior to the election, the governor promised to ensure the construction workers return to the site but till now we are to yet see any signs of them resuming work,” he added.

However, the protesting minibusses and taxis drivers who marched around Benin City, blocked the state government’s house, thereby hindered vehicular and human movement to and from the government house.

The protesters armed with placards of various inscriptions such as, “We voted for Obaseki, not employee and NURTW, We say no to employee N200 levy,” said they can only pay the government-approved levy and not illegal levies.

Addressing Journalists at the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Edo state Council, the spokesperson for the drivers, Richard Owali, said the levy is not within the tax approved by the State government.

Owali explained that before the just concluded governorship election in the state, they have been paying N400 for tickets, but they are now been forced by the transport union to pay an additional N200 or risk being beaten.

“We are crying to the government to look into the matter. Before now, the state government approved N400 for tickets; of that amount, we paid N100 to the National Union of Road Transporter Workers, N100 to the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria, N100 for the local government while the state government gets N100.

“Our problem is that after we have paid N400 to the government account, national union and road employee will come to our park, extort N200 from us and beat us if we don’t pay.

“Government should make it clear to us; if they want us to be paying to the National union or the state government’s Point Of Sale(POS), they should let us know,” he said.

Also speaking, Victor Edosomwan said the governor has not lived up to his expectations to tame “Lions and Tigers”.

“We agreed to buy the government’s ticket but a few weeks ago we saw some persons who identified themselves as national union and road employees, and forced us to buy tickets or they will beat us,” he added.