218 views | Kenechukwu Ofomah | April 2, 2021
Awka – Tipper Drivers across Anambra State on Thursday besieged the State Government House in Awka to protest what they called imposition of N4,500 Anambra Transport Management Code (ATMC) levy on them by the State Government.
The drivers are also protesting the merging of the Tipper drivers Association and the Tipper Owners Association, which they alleged was done by government purely for its interest and not that of the drivers.
Earlier last year, TNC gathered, Anambra State Government had introduced the ATMC for initially for commercial Tricycle operators popularly known as Keke drivers, for a fee of N2,500.
The ATMC is expected to capture details of all operators and assign a unique code to them so that it would be easy to trace any operator whose vehicle is used for criminal activities.
However, this year, surprisingly, the state government came up with a 4,500 naira ATMC levy for all the tipper drivers in the state.
Counsel to the tipper drivers, Barr. Okwuchukwu Okeke, who spoke to TNC correspondent, argued that the imposition of the ATMC is totally wrong as there has been no reported case of criminal activities carried out with tipper.
“It is worrisome and disturbing, how this government thinks. What is the idea behind introducing the ATMC for tipper drivers. It is impossible for anyone to commit crime using tipper and that is what we are challenging. Government cannot because it wants revenue, impose monies arbitrarily on operators in the system. That will kill business and discourage investment in the state. Whoever advised them on this is simply pushing this government to its downfall,” he said.
He also faulted the state government’s decision to disband the tipper drivers association and collapse the operators into one association, saying it totally violates their right to association.
“The drivers have every right to belong to any association they wish, so long as they do not portend evil to the society and that is what we are saying,” Okeke said.
Some of the tipper drivers who spoke to TNC, showed a court judgement preventing the state government from collecting a certain revenue from them, but the state government had gone ahead to collect the revenue.
They lamented that the State Commissioner for transport, Afam Mbanefo has made life miserable for them through the numerous tolls introduced for them while also using thugs and contractors to extort them.
They explained that several protests which they had held in the past did not yield any fruits as government had remained adamant to their pleas, saying the visit to the government house was to meet the governor and express their grievances.
Addressing the protesters, the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu regretted that the incident had prolonged unduly, assuring them that the governor will look into the matter urgently.
Meanwhile when contacted over the allegations, the Commissioner for Transport, Afam Mbanefo revealed that the ATMC was introduced for the tipper drivers for security reasons.
He said most of the drivers drive recklessly, adding that using the ATMC number, it will be easier to trace and report any fleeing offender.
“I believe that as a government, we have not done anything wrong by the initiative we introduced. The ATMC is for every transport operator in the state and not just for Keke operators. It is also noteworthy to state that the tipper union was consulted before we arrived at this decision.”
He continued, “In the past, we have had situations where some drivers drive recklessly and cause accidents. With this ATMC, we can now track them and deal appropriately with them. Even before they cause havoc, members of the public can spot them and report them for the necessary actions. This is simply as system we introduced to ensure safety and compliance with driving ethics on the roads while ensuring that the public take ownership of the transport system.”
On the merging of the Associations, the Commissioner explained that it became necessary to bring the over 21 tipper unions together, for ease of interaction and communication.