The motorcyclists and tricycle drivers, who have been protesting in Awka since Thursday lamented that the burden of taxation and exploitation was too much for them to bear.
Commercial motorcyclists and tricycle operators popularly known as Keke Napep riders in Awka, Anambra State capital have called on the state Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, to fulfill his promise of getting rid of touts or forget about the N15,000 monthly tax imposed on them.
The motorcyclists and tricycle drivers, who have been protesting in Awka since Thursday lamented that the burden of taxation and exploitation was too much for them to bear, saying they could no longer afford hire purchase tricycles given to them.
Recall that the state government had asked Keke Napep riders across the state to pay N15,000 tax per month, promising to end illegal revenue collection by getting rid of touts and illegal tax collectors.
But speaking with SaharaReporters on Friday at the popular Arroma Roundabout at the heart of Awka, some of the protesting Keke Napep riders said that the state government had unleashed its tax on them for the implementation of the N15,000 levy while they still paid touts at every terminal.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions including “Soludo: Solution please help us solve this payment out because is too much for Keke drivers”, “Soludo please help us. The money is too much for us to be paying”, “Say no to N15,000”, “We no go pay”.
One of the protesters who identified himself as Joseph Bassey said, “We don’t need Agberos (touts). What we are saying is that Soludo asked us to pay N15,000 monthly for each Keke rider but the N15,000 is too much for us to pay for each person per month. At least N5,000 is okay for us.
“Since April, the governor asked us not to pay any money again to agberos but since then till now we are still paying them money. In fact, we have paid N500 to agberos this morning. How will it be easy for us to be paying the government N15,000 and still be paying agberos N500 every day?”
Another protester who refused to mention his name pointed out that particularly in the Ifite axis of the city, “We pay N1500 and stop at Book Foundation and we will not even reach the school gate. If we pass the Book Foundation, another set of agberos are there collecting N7000. What is the essence of paying the government N15,000 and still be paying agberos?
“Every day, we pay N1500 from Arroma Roundabout to Book Foundation, paying for Government House N600, while every Friday is N800. Who loses, the government or we? How much do we make a day? It is either the government stops agberos, then we can pay the money because the summation of the money we pay to the government and the agberos, it is about N35,000 per month.”
They alleged that their supposed leaders were the ones fueling the forceful implementation of the N15,000 levy by the government, adding that Thursday, some government tax force raided their park and took some of their colleagues to police station for failure to pay the levy.
Bassey said that they have tried to explain to the government officials that they are still finding it difficult to register their Keke with the government but to no avail.
“I have gone to the Government House several times but the registration kept showing invalid OTP (One Time Password) and it is not only me. Even the people who came to harass us yesterday, we tried to explain to them that the government has not rectified the registration issues we have been complaining about but they refused to listen.”
According to them, “agbero is the problem of the Keke riders and as for now, we don’t have any union or government. We are on our own.”
SaharaReporters’ efforts to get the state Commissioner for Transportation, Patricia Igwebuike, to comment on the matter failed as she did not answer calls made to her phone number nor reply to a text message sent to her.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved protesters have vowed to sustain the protest until the government attended to their demand.