Motorists plying the Awka-Onitsha Expressway were last Wednesday subjected to a harrowing experience following the blockage of the road by drivers of commercial tricyclists, otherwise known as Keke, who were protesting what they termed high taxation by the Prof Soludo-led government in Anambra State, reports Jude Atupulazi.
The tricyclists said the new regime of levies introduced by the state government was too much for them.
Some of the tricyclists who spoke said they were being asked to pay N15,000 to the Keke Union, and a daily N500.; whereas their daily tickets used to be N450.
‘We were even appealing to government to reduce it because it is high, but instead, they increased it to N500.
‘Most of us that you see here are graduates who are managing their lives because there is no job for them. Others are driving their Keke on hire purchase basis, while most of us too are family men.
‘The country is hard. How can they be further forcing hardship on us, through these kinds of policies? We will not pay, let Soludo come to our aide,’ they said.
Meanwhile, Anambra State Government has denied involvement in the plan to subject tricycle riders to higher tax.
The spokesperson of the Anambra State Internally Generated Revenue Board, Mrs Tochukwu Ngige, said the protest might not be against Prof Soludo, as the governor had further simplified the payment of the tricyclists.
‘Instead of many illegal payments they make in a day, which has even amounted to over N1,000 daily, the governor has said they can only pay N600, and it won’t be an everyday payment. But they pay monthly.
‘Every other money is embedded in it. All they need to do is to come out every day and do their work and go home, not paying toll everyday,’ Mrs Ngige stated.
Meanwhile, human rights activist, Mr Osita Obi, has said that the payment that triggered the protest was being championed by Keke Riders Union, who, he said, were working to coerce their members to pay some money to them.
‘I have mobilized keke riders to resist it. The government has said they are not asking for any N15,000 from Keke riders. It is one renowned cultist, known as Snoop, who is trying to force the Keke riders to pay to him,’ Obi alleged.
Fides gathered that before now, the struggle for the control of parks and markets in the state capital had accounted for the many killings often attributed to cult wars, and the new government policy to shun payment of levies to any individual may put an end to such.