How Govt Is Allowing Thugs Plunge S’ East Into Serious Food Crisis
Drivers of perishable goods under the umbrella of Truck and Bus Association of Nigeria on Friday stated that the South East states may face food crisis if the activities of thugs, who extort money and seize their vehicles and goods, are not urgently checked.
The drivers explained during a demonstration that the activities of these touts, who claim to be both state and federal government revenue collectors, are the reasons behind the skyrocketing difference between the prices of perishable goods in the North and South-East. The drivers started the demonstration from the popular Four-Corners Junction in Nkanu West Local Government Area, Enugu State, along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Highway, and moved to Lokpanta Junction in Abia State, Okigwe Junction in Imo State and headed to Amansea Junction in Anambra State.
They blocked Lokpanta Junction at Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State causing heavy gridlocks for several minutes as vehicular movement stopped. The Association lamented that they have lost over 5 drivers and 3 vehicles to the thugs, who beat up drivers and destroy their vehicles over non-payment of what it described as ‘illegal levies’ on federal highways.
Speaking during a protest march at Lokpanta along the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway, Chairman of the Association, Mr Okezie Okeke, stated that there are over 2,000 revenue checkpoints across the Federal Highways in the South East zone manned by touts who collect over 20 assorted levies, seize vehicles and beat up drivers who fail to comply with what he described as ‘illegal levies.’
The chairman lamented that they have petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, who ordered the arrest of most of the thugs on the Federal Highways, but that they returned to their nefarious activities within few days.
He listed the worst areas where thugs beat up drivers for refusing to pay illegal revenue to include; Lokpanta, Obollo Afor, Okigwe junction, Umuikaa junction ,among others. “The South East zone may face food crisis if the activities of illegal revenue thugs are not checked on all the federal highways in the zone. Truck and bus drivers conveying perishable goods are daily beaten and their vehicles destroyed for refusing to pay over 20 different levies being charged by these thugs.
“The activities of these touts who claim to be working for both the state and federal government revenue collectors are the reasons behind the skyrocketing differences between the prices of perishable goods in the North and South-East,” he said.