No fewer than 100 tipper drivers, yesterday, stormed Anambra State Government House to protest alleged forceful imposition of Anambra Transport Management Code (ATMC) on them by the state’s Ministry of Transport.
The protesters carried placards, some of which read: “Stop Excessive Levy on Tipper Drivers,” “Governor Obiano, Help Us Stop Intimidation of Tipper Drivers,” “We are on a Peaceful Protest Because ASTA is Using Hoodlums and Criminals to Fight Us,” “Nigeria Union of Sand Miners Say No to Illegal Levy at Amansea,” Anaimo Tipper Drivers Say No to Exploitation” and “Divine Truck Tippers Association Say No to Illegal Revenue, Killings and Harassment by Government Agents and their Collaborators.”
The drivers, through their lawyer, Mmayienwata Okwuchukwu Okeke, said it was unheard of to introduce ATMC and force it down the throat of tipper drivers to accept.
He said that the state government had failed to obey court orders that favoured them but chose to appoint Anambra State Tippers Association and self-service agents as revenue collectors to drive away tipper drivers from their legitimate means of livelihood.
Okeke said that “the trouble that caused the present problem is because two persons that were given the authority to collect revenue had misunderstood and turned against each other, leaving two persons dead.
Also speaking, Chairman of All Anambra Tipper Drivers Association (AATDA), Awka South Local Council Chapter of the state, Jerry Ifejika, accused agents of the state government of creating “confusion among tipper drivers to extort members, threatening that they would block roads if the government fails to address the issue.
He said: “We are doing a peaceful protest to tell the governor what they are doing to our members – killing, harassing, extorting, and exploiting the tipper drivers.
“We are not against revenue collection, but we don’t want faceless people to be collecting the money.”
He condemned the illegal collection of revenue from tipper drivers, a negative development, he said, had forced the tipper drivers to move to Ebonyi State to load stones and sand, which invariably makes Anambra lose revenue.
Corroborating, a human rights activist, Osita Obi, said that tipper drivers do not have a need for the ATMC, as doing so may bring cultism into tipper operation.
He said that the government agents were doing the collection of the revenue for pecuniary purposes “without paying into government coffers.”
MEANWHILE, Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwudobelu, representative Governor Willie Obiano, who spoke with the protesters, appreciated their peaceful conduct, assuring that their case will be tabled before the governor for an amicable solution.