Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Tricycle operators popularly known as Keke NAPEP and shuttle bus drivers in Anambra State have begun an indefinite strike to press home their displeasure at the new tax policy imposed on them by the State Government.
The Governor had on June 30, announced the introduction of a new tax regime in the state, emphasising that the new order will cancel all revenue collections through proxy and bring sanity and accountability in the collection process.
According to him, the State Government, after a careful process, asked tricycle riders to start paying N15, 000 each on a monthly basis.
He said the amount equals N600 daily for 25 days, noting that 5 per cent of the sum will still go to the Keke union after collection for the month.
The Governor said the same thing is applicable to operators of shuttle buses who were asked to pay N25, 000 monthly.
But the introduction of the new tax did not augur well with the operators.
Most of them complained that the new system will create additional hardship for them.
It was learnt that both the tricycle and shuttle bus operators are indebted to two months of the approved revenue after series of consultations and meetings between members of the various transport unions and stakeholders and the Governor.
Activities of the task force on recovery and monitoring of the payment of the said sum at the popular and busy Aroma/State Secretariat Junction as well as Unizik Temporary Site Junction along the dual carriage Awka-Enugu-Onitsha Expressway had descended on them and forced the tricycle and shuttle buses to flee and in the process left commuters stranded.
During the raid, several tricycles and buses were seized from the operators and taken to the designated head office of the task force officials.
Consequently, the operators have declared total strike, barring their members from carrying passengers.
The situation has forced passengers to groan having been stranded, while others trek long distance to their destinations.
Ikengaonline learnt that the strike was due to the harassment of the operators by the law enforcement agents who, since Tuesday, have been rounding up some of the operators for failure to pay the newly instituted levy as directed by the State Government.
The tricycle operators deserted their loading beats or units at Regina Caeli on both ends of Awka-Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and Ziks Avenue, Aroma location, Unizik’s Temporary Junction, Ifite, Abakiliki junction, Ukwu Orji and Amawbia roundabout areas.
They also blocked Ziks Avenue, the major road leading to Eke Awka daily market with a call on Governor Soludo to review the N25, 000 for shuttle buses and N15, 000 tricycle operators monthly revenue imposed on them.
The operators accused their leadership of allegedly working with the State Government to impose the revenue on them without exhausting decisions and agreement on the said new tax regime which according to the operators is outrageous considering the present hardship and other economic realities.
Efforts to hear from the State Commissioner for Transport was not successful as his line was not reachable.