Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 19 July 2015 | 3,747 times
No fewer than five persons were injured and 10 vehicles destroyed in a clash involving Tipper Owners and Drivers Association of Anambra State (TODAS) and the agents of the consultant contracted for collecting the tolls in the State by Anambra State Government.
News Express learnt that the midweek clash was in reaction to the arbitrary increase of Sand Beach Tolls/ Environmental Remedial Fees they pay to the state government.
The high levies and the alleged attack of five of their members and destruction of over ten of their vehicles by the agents of the State Government had earlier on Monday made the association withdraw their service to express their grievances against the increase and as a result of their service withdrawal, building and construction activities in state has been grounded.
They also threatened that they would never render their service to the people of the state until government and their agents reverted to the N200 per trip sand stone and other minerals they evacuate, instead of N1,400 and N1,000 respectively they are being forced to pay per trip.
Some of the placards carried by the protesters read: “We say no to N600, N1,000, and N1,400. per trip.”
“We stand on N200 per trip, “Governor Obiano save us from the hands of greedy consultants and agents, tipper drivers will not render service in Anambra until government reverts to N200 per trip, States in South-East and South-South do not pay more than N200 per trip,” among others.
“Ogechukwu Nnadozie and Lawrence Onyejiekwe cannot speak for Tipper Owners and driver, In Asaba they pay N200 per trip, in Imo state, they pay N500 per day, in Enugu they pay N200 per trip, why must we pay N1, 000 and N1, 400 per trip.”
Addressing reporters yesterday at the Ogbe Ijaw Sand Beach near Ose Okwodu Market Onitsha, spokesman of the protesting members of TODAS Mr. Hycinth Okafor, said that they were paying N100 to the past government but after much pressure from the new government of the state and its predicament over revenue, they agreed on August 14, 2014 to be paying N200 per trip of sand or stone, and some of them cover up to thirty trips a day.
In his words, “We were surprised when they asked us through one Mr. EmekaIgwe, the consultant to the government, came up with the idea of paying N600 per trip and we were still contemplating meeting with the government to agree on an amount lower than N600, a letter from Anambra State Ministry of Science, Technology and Mineral Resources, Revenue Consultant /Monitoring Unit, signed by EmekaIgwe the Supervisory Head, directing that we will be paying N1,000.00 per trip for single Axel truck and N1,400.00 per trip for double Axel truck, for all types of sand, laterite and clay with effect from last Monday.
“We were not consulted before each of these increments from N600 to N1, 400.00 before imposing it on us, they did not consider what we make and the cost of filling the sand and stones into our vehicles, and we decided to withdraw our services.
“Anambra State Government has lost over N10 million from this our strike since Monday we withdrew our services, some of our members are now going to Asaba Delta State and Imo State for sand excavation and we are not happy that our state is losing the money to other states because of some selfish people.
“We are therefore appealing to the Governor to intervene in his matter as further attacks on us may lead to bloodshed; we are equally ready to pay N200 into the governments accounts, instead of these consultants who are deceiving the government that we can pay any amount.
“We are also appealing to the Governor to give us audience because some people may be deceiving him with amounts that are not achievable because of selfish interest, and such people may be our members who wants to get beaches that are in strategic positions.”
On his part, the lawyer to the protesting tipper owners and drivers association, Mr. Chidi Onwuelo, said that the problem was aggravated by some association members who decided on their own to connive with some individuals in government with an intention to make money for themselves.
He called on the government to ignore some of the members of the association whose interest is to have juicy part of the beaches.
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