Truck drivers on Friday, December 9, 2022, protested and blocked the River Niger Bridgehead and all roads leading in and out of Onitsha, Anambra State.
The drivers said they were protesting against the state government heavy tax imposition on trailers, lorries, truck, and other vehicles bringing goods into Anambra State.
The protest which started in the early hours of Friday had led to a total lockdown of the bridge as well as the Enugu-Onitsha, Onitsha-Owerri Expressway, and all the roads leading into and out of Anambra State, through Onitsha.
The situation caused commuters to be stranded while some people came down from their vehicles and started trekking.
While stating the reason for their action, the drivers lamented that the state government had imposed a levy of N30,000 on drivers of trailers loading and offloading goods in Anambra, while drivers of other vehicles pay between N20,000 and N25,000.
A driver, Odion Omoroge, who spoke on behalf of the aggrieved members said he drove all night from Abuja to Benin, where he carried bags of Garri and some tubers of yam into Onitsha. He expressed surprise at the the heavy levy on truck drivers by the government.
He said that he had never seen such anywhere in Nigeria.
He described the action of the government “as the worst the people of the state will see.”
“Violence about collection of money by the government revenue collectors is being witnessed daily in Anambra State, particularly in Onitsha. Violence is more pronounced now more than ever before. The same government says it does not want touts, yet touts are having field day on the roads on a daily basis,” Omoroge said.
The police were on the ground preventing a breakdown of law and order as the aggrieved drivers continued their actions. Commuters battled to pass through the roads.
The state police spokesman, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, could not be reached as calls and messages to his telephone line were not responded.
Governor Charles Soludo-led administration had announced a levy of N30,000 for trailers loading and offloading goods in Anambra State.
Other affected vehicles include lorries and trucks, whose levies range from N25,000 and N20,000 respectively, for 10 and six tyres’ lorries and trucks.
Business owners, importers, and warehouse operators located in different areas of Onitsha and its environs had protested against the levy and appealed to the Anambra State government to cancel it, and withdraw the people being used to collect it.
They alleged that the government’s action threatened their lives and security.