Taxi drivers in Cross River State Monday protested against ticketing and extortion of money from people suspected to be government agents.
Speaking during the protest along Calabar Road, a Unit Chairman of the Drivers Association, Emmanuel Chukwu said they were not protesting against ticketing alone but also against a new team that has been extorting money from the drivers.
“Why we are here is not for ticketing alone; we are here because we have a team that we don’t know where they come from. When you park your car, they will double-cross you.
“I have experienced it severally in my unit and I have gone to their office to talk to them. One of my drivers paid more than N70, 000 at their office at Cultural Centre, so we have been going, and we don’t know where they are.
“As the unit chairman, I have gone to the Commissioner for Transport, and they say they don’t know them as well as the Ministry of Environment. We have DOPT. We are contented with that; we have police; where are these civilians from?.
“They have been trying to extort money from us and this has given us sleepless nights, and we want to beg the government that drivers are also in the chains of production, without the driver, there will be no road. We want the government to hear our voices.
“They can carry your motor and ask you to pay N10, 000, whatever they want, our annoyance is that those people are not trained unlike DOPT and whatever they get from drivers enters their pockets.
“We are suffering every day and most of us are driving hire-purchase, and so we are not happy, we want these people to stop, we need DOPT as well as the police to work with us,” he said.
On his part, a driver who gave his name as Akpobi Promise said the government should move strongly against the miscreants who have been making life unbearable for the people.
“What I am trying to say here is that we don’t want any theoretical expression but a practical expression. Enforcement has been set up, so they must come to the field and do their work because those boys that are out there are not invisible, they are very visible, and we are all seeing them and no one is going after them.”
Addressing the protesters, the Secretary of the State’s Anti Tax Agency, Rev. Father, Dr. Julius Ada assured the protesting taxi drivers in the state that they are exempted from all forms of taxation and levies in the state.
“You are not supposed to pay taesx, the governor has exempted you and very soon, we will have a townhall meeting where all the local government chairmen will be called to have a briefing, and we will all let them know that you are a free group of people from taxation, so we encourage you to do your best.
“The governor is so sad about the number of illegal checkpoints, illegal ticketing, and he said no to ticketing.”
Reacting, the Chairman of the Anti- Tax Agency, Bishop Emma Isong said, “The Anti- Tax Agency has done all in her powers to enforce His Excellency’s Tax Exception policy which has been widely celebrated by Cross Riverians, but despite these efforts and a lot of sensitization, certain persons and groups of persons still continue to extort and oppress the people.
“This protest is a welcome development in a democracy. People have the freedom to exercise their legal right under law,” he stated.