Commercial activities paralyzed in Benin as drivers protest against extortion
Commercial activities were paralyzed for several hours yesterday in Benin following a massive early morning protest by drivers.
Irked by what they insisted is a rip off by officials of Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV), the irate drivers had blocked off the busy Benin-Lagos expressway by the popular Uselu market.
The drivers’ spokesman, Mr Victor Omokhojie explained that the heart of the matter has to do with the heavy-handedness and extortion by officials of PUWOV who collect exorbitant fees in each of the six municipal local government areas that make up Benin municipal.
He said. “We pay a fee of N600 daily from the local government area where we load and are supposed to pay N100 as we cross the boundary to the next local government area but we are charged N200.”
Continuing, Omokhojie charged that a top official of the volunteer agency impounded over 25 during the weekend which is supposed to be a work-free day, lamenting that the drivers had to cough out N5,000 before being left off the hook.
He further said that the lines on the asphalt where they are supposed to park are blurred, noting that the fine for crossing it is a fine of N40,000 which is meted out at the tribunal sitting at Urhokpota hall in downtown Ring Road, Benin.
The action of the drivers resulted in long traffic hold up which stretched for about ten kilometres from the former toll gate at Oluku to Uselu Shell.
Frustrated by the gridlock, some commuters were seen trekking for long distances in a desperate attempt at escaping from the bedlam as vehicular movement was at a standstill.
Traders at Uselu Market hurriedly locked up shops just as most offices along the road were under lock and key for fear of street urchins popularly called area boys who normally take advantage of such situations.
A determined effort to see the head of PUWOV, Mr Mukhar Bello-Osagie proved futile but a top official however denied the allegations, noting that it’s only drivers who run foul of the law that are arrested.
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Commercial activities paralyzed in Benin as drivers protest against extortion. Commercial activities paralyzed in Benin as drivers protest against extortion.