They Still Collect Money from Us Despite Ban — Keke Drivers Lament in Awka

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BY SUNNY A. DAVID

Commercial drivers of tricycle, people known as Keke Napep in Awka, Anambra State capital, have lamented over continued extortion and incessant levies they are still subjected to, despite ban on touting, recently pronounced by the new government of Anambra State.

Our correspondent, who went round the various parks in Awka to monitor how the ban is being implemented, found out that some touts still collect money from drivers at some parks.

At UNIZIK Temp. Site where tricyclists load to Okpuno, Mgbakwu, Ngozi Estate among others; it was observed that every tricyclist who had passengers in his Keke was levied ₦50 per trip, which were being collected by two men, one of whom held a red marker, while the other tightly held a bundle of money of different denominations in his left hand.

When interviewed, one of the tricyclists, who simply identified himself as Chiboy for security reasons, lamented that they were still being levied, despite the ban and various awareness created about it.

He said: “Even this morning, we were all in this park when a public service announcer passed here and created awareness about the ban and also warned that we shouldn’t give any tout or revenue agent money anymore, because Soludo has banned that. And these touts were all here when the announcement was made.

“Yet, despite the announcement, they still continued what they were doing. Some of them were even mocking the man when he was making the announcement.”

Chiboy, however acknowledged that there was a reduction in the money they are now being levied, compared to what it used to be before the pronouncement of the ban; but noted that he neither knows where the money is going to nor what they are being used for.

On what would happen if any tricyclist refuses to pay them, he said the already-drunk tout would not only take and seize something valuable from his tricycle, but may also ‘lay hands’ on the driver and also discharge all his passengers.

Some of the touts and their heads were also seen sipping beers of different brands while also minding their work.

The story was not too different at Amawbia Park, where two touts were also sighted, with one holding a marker, while the other held another fat bundle of money and still chased after loaded and departing tricycles to collect ₦100 each from them.

After a short while, tricyclist was seen at a close-by shop shouting “Final! No more! Soludo Solution done come! Make I see how I go continue dey make others rich with my sweat and remain poor as Keke driver.”

While saying these, he was also holding a burning paper suspected to be one of the daily tickets usually sold to them at the park.

When interviewed, the tricyclist confirmed the burnt paper was a ticket touts used to sell to them, but revealed that the era of tickets had now passed, as no one sells tickets to them anymore at the park.

He said: “That time, before you go carry passenger from this park reach Amawbia and come back, you go done pay like ₦550 more, all in the name of tickets, loading fee, park fee and other things wey I no even fit remember.

“But, today, all those things done become pass, because government done chase all those Agbero comot. Now, nah only ₦100 we dey pay for the park each time we load, because the man who get the park say nah him property, and no be government own. Therefore him boys still dey ground dey collect money for him from every Keke wey loads for this park.”

It was, however, observed that shuttle buses who load at the park also pay certain amounts of money to another group of touts, ranging from ₦100 and above, depending on the destinations of the passengers he carried.

One of the shuttle drivers also testified that they were paying much more than that amount in the past, but for the new policy.

At Aroma Junction, the story was worse, as interviews with tricyclists show that nothing has changed from what was previously obtainable.

A tricyclist who plies Aroma—Ifite route revealed that each tricyclist pays a total of ₦700 daily, the breakdown of which he gave as follows: ₦400 paid to Chidubem (a member of the Keke Union task force), 100 paid to Ozone, ₦100 for Opposition, and ₦100 paid at Book Foundation.

He disclosed that their Union Chairman resigned two days ago and advised those under him to cease collecting levies and other revenue henceforth, but despite that, the defiant Chidubem still comes out daily to collect those levies, shortly after which he immediately disappears, probably for fear of being caught or arrested.

“Him still come this evening self, collect him money sharp sharp and disappear. Abeg make government come help us pursue them comot kpamkpam from here. This people dey use us make better money here,” he added (in pidgin).

Recall that the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, CP Echeng Echeng, on Sunday, gave a marching order to the Heads of Tactical Units, Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and Heads of Departments (HODs) across the State Police Command to ensure strict and immediate enforcement of the band on touting and cash collection of revenue in the State, which was declared by the newly-sworn-in Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo.

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