Taxi, bus drivers protest alleged ENTRACO excesses

There was pandemonium in Owerri, the Imo State capital last Tuesday following a wild protest by commercial taxi and bus drivers who blocked the major entrances into the city for over three hours.
They blocked the entry points and junctions with their taxis and buses, leading to traffic standstill and forcing passengers to trek to their various destinations.
We gathered that the drivers were protesting what they described as excessive harassment and extortion by officials of the Imo Environmental Transformation Commission (ENTRACO).
The leader of the group, Comrade Stanley Akabueze, who spoke to us, said that the actions of the ENTRACO officials were becoming so unbearable on them. He lamented that no single day passed without complaints from their members who were either forced to part with their money or injured, while resisting the group.
Comrade Akabueze called on the state government to intervene in the matter before the situation gets messier.
Another driver, Ikenna Echefu, who operates a Toyota taxi said that after painting their vehicles at high cost and paying a daily compulsory levy of N200, ENTRACO officials still harassed them for no good reason. He went ahead to show some copies of the daily ticket receipts which read “Imo State Govt. Daily Toll”.
A bus driver, Ugochukwu Ugwu expressed anger over the manner with which the ENTRACO  officials operate.
According to him, they drag the steering with drivers while the vehicle is moving.
Another leader of the group who did not mention his name said that the drivers were being pushed to the wall.
According to him, because of the various road constructions going on in the city, there are no bus stops and no parking space and yet drivers are being arrested and punished for parking and for picking passengers.
“Where will we park? Just look around and tell me where we will pick passengers and where will these passengers wait, for us? Will we fly on the air”?  he asked  angrily.
Some of the protesting drivers were carrying placards some of which read “No more ENTRACO and TAXIS BEING HUMILIATED BY ENTRACO.
They also revealed that the ENTRACO officials used cutlasses, hammer and axe in their operations.
They showed journalists two cutlasses which were retrieved from a team of ENTRACO officials who were dismantled during the protest along Wetheral Road.
The protesting drivers moved from Wetheral to Government House Roundabout where they were addressed by the commissioner for Transport, Imo State and invited to a meeting on the issue the next day.

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