Bus drivers in Owerri the capital city of Imo State have cried out to the government over what they referred to as regular molestation and extortion by operatives of Imo State Environmental Commission (ENTRACO).
Most of the drivers in Owerri said that on daily basis they are sure of unplanned expenses when nabbed by ENTRACO operatives and in most cases they do not even know why they were being harassed.
Speaking to www.otowngist.com, a bus driver said; “it is now very bad because you now come out forn work, hopping to be involved in a fight. They are willing to fight you and because they are many and probably accompanied by an armed police officer, you’ll definitely lose out”
Another driver said; “seeing drivers and ENTRACO official fighting or dragging their keys has become a normal thing in Owerri and as disgusting as it can be, drivers are left with no option but to defend themselves. If this harassment, extortion and humiliation continues, drivers might be forced to go on strike for a day so that government will do something about the issue”
One of the drivers who spoke to us admitted that in most cases, the drivers are at fault due to their recklessness, but admitted that ENTRACO operatives are often setting traps for them.
“You can avoid them if you’re careful”, the driver said, adding that “if you keep to all traffic rules, especially avoid packing in wrong places, there’s a high probability there won’t be any problem with them”
“My concern is who gets all the money they collect from drivers on daily basis. They make a lot of money and if it doesn’t go to the state government, then these guys should be probed.”
As operatives struggled to impound a vehicle opposite Prisons, Okigwe road Owerri, one of the drivers at the scene said “they often appear like ghosts and it’s as if one place that is totally legal becomes illegal in the next minute. It often takes so much to understand how they work, what they want and how to avoid them”.
One of the ENTRACO operatives said the drivers are often reckless and don’t care about traffic rules or anything. He added that some of them think it is still the keke and motorcycle era and drive as if there are no rules on the road.
“Whenever they are caught, they cry and often try to fight us. We’re working with the law and there is nothing they can do to us”, he said.
On what it takes to recover an impounded vehicle, one of the drivers said; “it depends who caught you and where they took your vehicle”
He revealed that about Three Thousand Naira N3,000 can set one free on the road side, but if the vehicle is taken to Heroes Square, “be sure to cough out between N5,000 to N10,000”
Still on that, a driver said a certain group take N10,000 for instant bailout or the driver pays N5,000 by the end of the day at the road side, if he does not want his car taken to Heroes Square.