All kinds of transport levies payable to Abia State government, which are imposed on tricycles (Keke), buses, taxis and other commercial vehicles in the state were, Wednesday, suspended with immediate effect by Governor Alex Otti.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Ferdinand Ekeoma, who disclosed this in a statement, stated that the suspension is in line with the governor’s campaign promise “to sanitise methods of revenue collection in the state and stop all kinds of extortion, intimidation and harassment of motorists.”
Ekeoma added that the new state government believes that such method of collecting levies is archaic and harmful to lives of the people, as well as the economic well-being of the state; hence, should not be allowed to continue.
He said: “In the light of the above decision, the governor has asked those involved, directly and indirectly, to discontinue, forthwith, or face the wrath of the law, as security agents have been briefed and directed to apprehend and bring to justice anyone found violating this directive.”
Various means were used to collect such taxes and levies on roads, motor parks, markets and other places by designated private companies, including unauthorised armed touts, who forcibly extort the levies from members of the public and, thereafter, fail to render accounts of their collections.
According to unconfirmed information obtained from the state Ministry of Finance, millions of taxes and levies, collected by such means, were not paid into government accounts.
A tricycle operator in Umuahia, who gave his name as Okey Enyinnaya, said they pay between N200 and N300 daily on the road to collectors, who issue them receipts, some of which were found to be fake.
He said: “They force you to stop, and if you delay payment, they would seize your vehicle or break your glass or force you to where they may harm you or confiscate your vehicle.”