Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Police fire teargas on protesting bus/taxi drivers in Owerri

Johnkennedy Uzoma, Owerri

Protesting bus/taxi drivers in Owerri, Imo State capital were over the weekend teargassed by the officers of the Nigerian police at the Government round about.

The teargas caused panic in the capital city as people including the protesting drivers, other motorist ran helter skelter for their dear lives.

The teargas was applied to dispatch the uncontrollable number of the protesting drivers preventing them from causing bridge of peace in the state.

The drivers operating in the city of Owerri numbering thousands had matched out in unplanned  protest against what they described as multiple taxation forcefully imposed on them by government task force.

 The protest grounded momentarily both social and business activities in the city as they took to the major roads and blocked off the Government House roundabout.

READ ALSO: http://FRANK TALK: This is not the news!

The drivers who blocked off Wetheral road, Bank road and Okigwe road with their vehicles said the protest was triggered off by the attack of one of the buses by operators of the taskforce in the guise of collecting penalties for road obstruction.

One of the drivers simply identified as Obiefule told newsmen that the illegal multiple collection of dues and levies did not start today. 

He expressed shock how the members of task force could be stopping the drivers without committing any offence.

He said that the task force behaving like thugs saw the bus still in motion and jumped into it, before the driver could ask why they jumped into his vehicle they attacked him, took away two tires, number plate and the battery of the bus.

He said that the badly beaten driver was crying and shouting for help and when most of their colleagues saw him they started flagging every taxi down to protest this lawlessness.

Another driver who did not disclose his name added: “most times the driver will be lucky if they do not steal his phone”.

Commenting also, Chibuzor Igwebuike said that the irony is that the number of taskforce operators in Owerri is outrageous and most of them do not have any office address.

He accused the NURTW of being in alliance with some of the operators and that situation has made them not to know who is who.

READ ALSO: http://FCTA to introduce sign-language interpretation in Nursing Schools

He said: “How can a taxi driver survive if you are forced to pay between N10,000 to N15,000 in a day for an offence you do not know about. The evil in this is that you may pay the fine today, tomorrow another group will jump into your vehicle and you will pay again. If you run into another group on the third day, you will pay again”.

He expressed fear on how they can survive in spite of all the government dues and emblems we pay for pointing out that the annoying thing is after paying the fine, no matter how much you pay, they collect another N750 from you for what they call security.

Igwebuike revealed that most of them are driving the cabs on hire-purchase basis and they are making it increasingly difficult for them to operate in Owerri, noting that it is the reason why people complain that taxi fares are highest in Owerri.

He noted that the taskforce operators impound their vehicles and take them to Owerri Municipal council, Arugo park, Aba road, behind Concorde hotel and some other place around Akachi area.

As at the time of filing the report, the government was yet to make official statement on the matter.