Tricycle operators under the aegis of Awka North/South Keke Drivers Welfare Forum, Anambra State, on Wednesday protested alleged extortion, harassment and incessant killings of their members.
The protesters drove round Aroma, through Enugu-Awka Expressway and converged beside the Alex Ekwueme square, Awka, as they displayed placards with various inscriptions.
Some of the placards read: “Say no to monthly dues quoted for security money”, “Government cannot continue to play Ostrich to our plight” and “We are union not slaves to tax masters.”
Others read: “Say no to cultist leadership”, “Say no to intimidation and physical abuse of Keke operators.”
Addressing newsmen, the Coordinator of the forum, Mr Osita Obi, alleged that operators paid various illegal dues and levies, get harassed and intimidated by agents allegedly approved by the state government.
Obi alleged that they also faced harassment by cultists who infiltrated the keke operators business.
He listed some of the levies to include: membership registration- N45,000, ID card yearly renewal- N2,500, sanitation bucket- N6,800, end of year party fee – N4,500 and state management code fee – N4,000 and among others.
“The keke operators are tired of leadership imposition and want to be allowed to operate independently.
“Many of us cannot afford to live in good houses, send our children to better schools or wear good clothes, just because we pay too many levies and they might kill you if you refuse to comply.
“We want government to intervene. We are willing to pay legitimate government revenues but obnoxious revenues will no longer be tolerated, “he said.
Also speaking, Mr Collins Chidubem, a keke operator, said they had complained severally to the state government to no avail.
Chidubem alleged that the acclaimed keke leadership recruited spies who monitored their activities and created fears among members.
Reacting, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr Emma Akpeh, dismissed the allegations, saying there was no attempt to compel tricycle operators to pay certain levies, not even end of year party levy.
Akpeh said that the state government requested any member forced to pay levy in respect of end of year party to report to the ministry.
He also warned that the ministry would deal decisively with any tricycle union official, representative or agent found compelling tricycle operators to either pay such unauthorised levies or manhandle them.