Following the recent introduction of harmonised taxation system by the Rivers State Board of Internal Revenue, compelling commercial drivers to pay N300 daily, commercial drivers are lamenting the harassment and forceful collection of additional fees by road transport unions and other associations.
The Tide reports that the unified taxation system was intended to abrogate the multiple taxation regime, with a view to ensuring that drivers pay N300 daily to the covers of the state government to get ticket that would make them ply any route in the state.
The Tide investigation however, revealed that commercial drivers in various locations pay for as much as five tickets, amounting to about N3,000 in a day as against the N300 approved by the Board of Internal Revenue.
Speaking to The Tide, recently, Vitalus Onyema, a commercial driver, who plies Trans-Amadi route said, “We are paying double ticket, about five different tickets, amounting to N3,000 daily as against the governments approved N300 only. The National Union chairman in this area uses thugs to force us to buy their tickets, thereby sabotaging the efforts of government.”
In his view, another driver, John Ibim, lamented that “we are forced by the union people to buy tickets for 200 maintenance, Obio/Akpor, Phalga, community and National Union of Road Transport Workers, all amounting to N3,100 plus the government N300 scratch card daily. Most of us are driving on hire purchase and before you can afford to pay the principal owner of the vehicle N1.6 million, you have already paid N1.2 million to unions”
Boma Okujagu who plies Slaughter to Abuloma said, “the touts engaged by these groups will not want to know whether you have fuel or not, but the ticket money. There are some of the union members that have battons and log of wood in their hands, before you resist them, they have battered your vehicle or even break your head with it. Yesterday, they recruited some cult boys and they injured some of our drivers. We suggest the money should be kept at N1,500 to cover both government and these other groups”
In another development, Keke drivers plying Rumuokoro-Rumuagholu route in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area have also cried out that they were forced to buy three different tickets every day apart from the N200 paid to the state government.
However, a NURTW official who spoke to The Tide on condition of anonymity, said “we are not thwarting governments’ order because the union must survive as the government survives. The multiple taxation is only against the double collection of stickers and tickets from one local government area to the order, meaning that the N300 scratch card of government covers the drivers any where they go. There is no time government ban NURTW not to collect their union dues. So, they must pay their daily union dues as long as the union exists”
Monarch Tasks RSG, NDDC On Chokota-Umuebulu Road
The Onye Ishi Ala Chokota in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, Eze I.S. Wekeh, has appealed to the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to add Chokota-Ikwerengwo-Umuebulu Road to their respective priority projects with a view to rehabilitating the road.
Eze Wekeh who made the appeal recently while speaking with newsmen urged the state government to come to the aid of the residents in the area, saying the area hosts several oil wells mined by Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC), therefore playing a key role in the revenue generation of the nation.
According to him, “during the time the present state government flagged-off the construction of Igbo-Rumuokwurusi Road, there was an assurance that Chokota-Ikwerengwo-Umuebulu Road will be rehabilitated, but we are still hopeful that the road is still dear to his heart, as we are still expecting result. I am also appealing to NDDC to come to the aid of the inhabitants of the area as well as the multinational corporation operating in the area”.
A resident in the area, Mrs Adaku Amadi, who spoke to The Tide, said “Things are very difficult here for us due to the bad road. Our mothers use to go to the farm with bicycle or motor cycle and they usually fall on the bad road. Some pregnant women will deliver without any medical treatment because of lack of access to medication due to bad road. So we are appealing to government to help us alleviate this suffering by rehabilitating the road”.
Another resident in the area, Mr Paul Wosu, said “my brother, we use to suffer here and we are expecting government to do something, even NDDC as an interventionist agency to come to our aid. Now you can drive in because everywhere is dry, but during the rainy season, you can not dare it, because the flood will drown you. We are still appealing for positive response from the relevant authorities”.
It would be recalled that the NDDC had sometime in 2006 promised to fix the road as part of their priority projects, but could not mobilise to site till date a result, the state government promised to rehabilitate the road.
FRSC To Prosecute Users Of Unworthy Heavy Duty Trucks
The Plateau State Sector Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) says it would impound and prosecute users of unworthy heavy duty trucks and articulated vehicles within Jos metropolis.
The command disclosed this in a statement signed by Route Commander Andrew Bala, its Public Education Officer, yesterday in Jos.
It expressed worry over the rampant and incessant crashes and breakdown of heavy duty trucks and articulated vehicles within the Jos metropolis.
“Crash investigation and analysis has shown that most of these crashes and breakdowns are as a result of brake failure and mechanical deficient vehicles.
“It is in this light that the command is admonishing all owners of heavy duty trucks, articulated and dysfunctional vehicles to carry out routine checks and repairs on their vehicles.
“Very soon, the command will carry out a special patrol to wipe out and prosecute offenders of unworthy vehicles within the Jos metropolis and environs that ply the highways,” the statement said.
The command advised motorists to keep enough distance from heavy duty trucks or articulated vehicles on the highway to allow for safe manoeuvering in case of any mishap.
It said that the task of ensuring safety on the highway is a shared responsibility.
It appealed to all road users to obey all traffic rules and regulations as anyone found wanting would be sanctioned accordingly.
Flyover: Commissioner Calls For Patience Over Traffic Congestion
Following the ongoing construction of Rumuokoro flyover by the construction giant, Julius Berger Plc, the Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Austin Ben Chioma, has urged motorists and road users to exercise patience and bear with the traffic situation as the construction of the flyover project progresses.
The Commissioner made the appeal on Monday in a chat with newsmen while supervising the demolition of structures at the garrison flyover construction site in Port Harcourt
He noted the traffic problems associated with the construction of Rumuokoro flyover and assured that measures would be put in place to ensure free flow of traffic at Rumuokoro.
According to him, “The company has just started the flyover at Rumuokoro, Very soon, we will work out modalities to alleviate the flow of traffic at that area. I appeal that people, especially motorists should exercise patience pending when the project will be completed. It is for the good of the whole”.
The Tide reports that Julius Berger, had since last week, blocked one of the two lanes along Eliozu-Rumuokoro Road, leaving one lane to serve the motorists.
Meanwhile, The Tide gathered that some policemen and soldiers from Bori Camp were collecting N50 each from commercial drivers who run one way along Eliozu route.
Speaking to The Tide, a taxi driver who plies Rumuokoro-Eliozu route, John Jide, said, “soldiers from Bori Camp came on the road through their back gate to the road and started collecting N50 with the allegation that we were running against the lane (one way), when it has officially been approved that motorists should use one way pending when there will be alternative provision, as the flyover construction lasts”.
Another taxi driver who plies same route, Igwe Ajam, said “police and army are disturbing us on this route. They extort so much from us. You meet police check point, they will collect N50, you move further you see a gang of soldiers, you pay another N50, but private motors that are also running that same one way are allowed to go free.
“Their target is commercial taxi, we want government to look into this because we are not deliberately running one way if not for the approval of the authorities that be”.
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