Motorists, commuters groan as tipper drivers occupy Enugu-Onitsha highway again

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Enugu-Onitsha highway

Human and vehicular movements were on Friday grounded for over six hours in Onitsha, Anambra state, following protests by tipper drivers.

The drivers under the auspices of the All Tipper Drivers Association protested over alleged intimidation, harassment, assault, forceful collection of illegal revenues and exorbitant revenue.

Friday’s protest was the third time the aggrieved tipper drivers were blocking the roads to express their displeasure on the alleged ill treatment by the state government.

The aggrieved drivers said the revenue were being collected from them above government approved sum by some agents of government.

The protesters, as early as 6.30 am, had occupied the Onitsha-Enugu expressway end of the Niger Bridge Head with their sand-filled tippers to ensure difficulty in their removal.

The blocking of the both sides of the roads made entry and exit into the state frustrating with over 50 tippers chanting anti- government songs.

Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Gov. Obiano your appointees are destroying your good work,” “We love Obiano but his Commissioners are destroying his government because of selfish interest and the interest if their friends and family members.”

Addressing newsmen, President General of All Tipper Drivers Association in the State, Nze Ebuka Unekwe, alleged that they were being made to pay N1000 per trip of sand as well as another N1400 and N700 not approved by government by two agents they identified as Okigbo and Oyi.

He said: “You will recall that we blocked this road in the middle of the year shortly after the removal of the former Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Uchenna Okafor, “Wiper” who introduced all those illegal levies.

“We were invited to Awka to meet with the Governor but at the end the person we saw was the Commissioner of Police who met with us and later some of our member were detained in the prison and all efforts we made to see the Governor was blocked by the same people who are benefiting from our woes.

“The new Commissioner for Transport who came here that day to address us Dr. Christian Madubuko has done everything possible to address this problem but we understand that Wiper himself boasted to us that he has the ears of the Governor more than the Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Madubuko and the man has been saving his head in our matter so that they will not remove him.

“We blocked this road today with pain as last resort to draw attending of the Governor to the extortions Hus appointees have been engaged in, we have seen the suffering of our brother ad sister who are coming home and that is the only reason that will make us open the road today.”

According to him, the drivers had secured a Federal High Court judgement against the illegal revenue agents but regretted they refusal to obey the court judgement for their selfish gains.

Also speaking, Coordinator of the Tipper Drivers and Vice President of the association Mr. Boniface Udenwa said they have taken enough of some Anambra State government appointees who go about dropping name of the Governor claiming to dine and wine with him and therefore can do anything and go free.

The protesters were later dispersed following appeal by Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah, representing Anambra South in the Senate who was also trapped on his way back from Asaba airport.

Speaking with newsmen, Ubah said he was pained that the incident was happening at a time people were returning home for Christmas and New Year celebrations.

He pledged to meet with the tipper drivers tomorrow in his house before meeting with the state Governor, Willie Obiano to find a lasting solution to the lingering crises.





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