Policemen posted to the highways in Abia State have allegedly raised the “toll” being collected from commercial vehicle drivers operating in the state by 100 percent, The Point has learnt. Checks by The Point revealed that the policemen in the state had recently switched to demanding higher denomination, referred to in their parlance as “the ‘red’
(N100.00 note), instead of the ‘white’ (N50.00) they used to collect, from the commercial vehicle drivers.
A bus driver plying the Umuahia-Ohafia-Arochukwu road, Martin Orji, alias Ahidjo, confirmed the report, describing the development as “unfortunate and shameful.” Orji claimed that on a normal day, he encountered no fewer than seven teams of police men on the road and had to part with “the red” at each of the points they were stationed.
He added that on local market days, the policemen collected more money than “normal”.
According to him, on some occasions, the team would insist on collecting up to N200.00, depending on the amount of goods and the number of passengers being conveyed in a vehicle.
Every police man wants to work in Abia state because of what he expects to make from the highway, road junction or any other place where he will get ‘rogger’ every day
Similarly, another driver, Austine Nnamani, operating on the Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt route, said transporters on that route had other challenges such as “settling of other uniformed men, either directly or through their agents. “If you calculate what we spend
on the route on such payments, fuel, transport unions, and maintenance of our vehicles, you will find that we are hardly breaking even,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, tipper, tanker, truck and trailer drivers described such forcible collection of toll by the policemen and other security agents as unbearable, adding that though theirs were not fixed, what they were made to pay usually depended on the mood of the team.
A truck driver operating along Lokpanta Cattle Market in Umunneochi Local Government Area and Umuahia, said that the situation had become unbearable for him and his colleagues.
“Every police man wants to work in Abia State because of what he expects to make from the highway, road junction or any other place where he will get ‘rogger’ every day,” said the embittered driver. Narrating his experience, a graduate tricycle (Keke) operator,
who gave his name as Lykman, bemoaned what he and his colleagues were allegedly being subjected to by security men at Isigate Bus stop.
“The armed security men operating there are always busy extorting money from transporters. If you resist them, you will have yourself to blame,” he added.
The Point gathered that commercial drivers in the state were planning to petition the Inspector General of Police over the matter, if the state command of the police failed to address the problem. But an officer in the office of the state Police Public Relations Officer,
who did not want to be identified, denied the allegation by the drivers.
Explaining that the command was not aware of the “scandalous and malicious reports from the drivers”, he described their claims as a calculated campaign to tarnish the image of the command and its leadership.