Vehicle inspection officials, Monday, escaped lynching by the whiskers when drivers plying 9th Mile-Iwollo road besieged them following the transport operatives’ alleged extortion of motorists.
The ever-busy road stood still for almost two hours following the siege by the drivers. They claimed the operatives began work on the road about a week ago, and had been extorting them.
Chukwudi Ezinwa, a driver, said, “These operatives collect as much as N10, 000 from us over minor offences. They check papers, tyres, wheel spanners, and brake lights. And when you default in one, they bill you heavily. I paid N10, 000 yesterday for not having a fourth nut on my tyre. It is disgusting.”
Monday’s outrage followed the insistence of the operatives that every commercial vehicle that passed must be checked, including the expiry dates of tyres. A conductor, whose name could not be ascertained, said, “They demanded our wheel spanner. We gave it to our colleague plying on the same road today. So, because we didn’t have it, they asked us to pay N10, 000. We then called our union, and that is how we blocked this road. This is not a federal road. Vehicle inspection officials should go to federal roads. They collect N200 from okada riders daily. If this continues, #EndVIO will start. Things are hard, and we can’t hand over our struggles to these people.”
THE WHISTLER reports that the chairman of Ezeagu Local Government Area, Mr Chukwudi Ani, physically checkmated efforts to lynch the transport officials. One of the drivers said, “This chairman respects himself, otherwise, we would have dealt with these criminals. VIOs left federal roads and came to Iwollo road to deal with us. They are criminals.”
Mr Ani, while addressing the protesters, said, “We have sent messages to concerned authorities. The governor is aware. There will be no more motor checks on this road.”
Our correspondent reports that about seven operatives of the traffic officials were beaten, with some of them escaping the onslaught into the bush. One of them, NG Ngwu, who said he was from Eke, a community close to the area, was captured, but was saved by the prompt intervention of the Nigeria Police that whisked him to their office for interrogation.
It was gathered that police operatives who were allegedly extorting money from motorists about one kilometre from the scene of the incident abandoned their duty post when they got the hint of the drivers’ outrage.