Commercial drivers have withdrawn services from Ebonyi , accused the state government of sponsoring thugs, ENigeria Newspaper reports
Beginning today, Thursday, October 7, 2021, commercial transport operators across Nigeria have decided to withdraw their services from all regions of Ebonyi State, ENigeria Newspaper understands.
Chief Gregory Inyaba, the national chairman of the Association of Mass Transit Operators (AMTO), who made the announcement in Enugu today (Wednesday), said the blacklisting of Ebonyi State followed unprovoked attacks on staff and facilities, particularly members’ vehicles, by cultists and thugs hired by Ebonyi State government officials since Tuesday .
Since attacks by government-approved thugs on carriers began on Tuesday, several employees of transport companies in the state capital have been decapitated, and countless cars have been damaged, some beyond repair.
The attacks, according to AMTO national President Chief Inyaba, were unprovoked, unjustified, and amounted to blatant hostility to industry and investment, prompting the boycott.
Members of the Nigerian Public Transport Owners Association, he said, were also involved in the boycott decision.
On Wednesday, he spoke at the end of an emergency meeting of the AMTO executive at the organization’s national offices in Enugu State Capital.
“No commercial vehicle shall move to Ebonyi or exit the state beginning tomorrow, Thursday, October 7, 2021,” he stated.
“The governor of Ebonyi State has requested that we leave the state, and we have no choice but to do so,” he stated.
On Wednesday, vehicles belonging to members with passengers from neighboring states were also targeted, making the state an unsafe and hostile environment for commercial vehicles and operators, according to Chief Inyaba.
“How can you assault trucks carrying passengers from other states going into Ebonyi?” he wondered. “It means we won’t be able to bring people in safely and comfortably, which is a proclamation of hostility.” He went on to say.
The AMTO President instructed members of all other transport unions in the country to take note of the decision to boycott Ebonyi State beginning Thursday and to follow it.
“Do not load passengers into Ebonyi State from anywhere, and members inside Ebonyi State must not carry passengers out of the state under any circumstances,” he reiterated.
The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Transport’s attempt to force their members to vacate their well-developed premises/depots within the state capital and relocate to virgin farmland on the periphery, without first improving the premises, was denounced by the union.
Attacks on commercial buses in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state capital, escalated today (Wednesday) when armed thugs working for the state government smashed up more vehicles in an apparent attempt to drive operators out of the capital region.
Since Tuesday, when Commissioner for Transportation Onyebuchi Nwebonyi led daredevil thugs about the Abakaliki township, smashing up automobiles and forcibly locking private car parks, mass transit owners and companies in the state capital have been under siege.
He had ordered transport business owners to relocate to undeveloped premises on Ikom Road, far from Abakaliki, a week earlier, an order apparently sanctioned by the state government.
Because the suggested site remained a virgin farmland, entirely covered with grass and seasonal un-harvested crops, discussions regarding the move were hushed and seemed far-fetched.
Each company had paid a different sum for space in the promised new park, ranging from N1 million to N4 million Naira, but no development had commenced there, making the operators’ sudden departure from the capital city unexplained.
The government thugs’ attacks on operators’ premises and facilities in Abakaliki, which began on Tuesday, resumed today (Wednesday), with more operators’ buses being wrecked by the rampaging thugs.
Since Tuesday, nearly all operators have had a large number of buses smashed. PMT took the brunt of the damage, with eight vehicles destroyed on the first day and two more today.
A scheduled meeting of the state Exco members with commissioner, Eze Nwachukwu Eze, ended abruptly when the commissioner excused himself and promised to return, according to Fred Nwogbaga, Ebonyi State Chairman of the Association of Mass Transit Operators (AMTO). He claimed he had never done so.
“We will continue to engage the state administration in order to put an end to this brigandage,” he said. “Willfully destroying the investment of law-abiding firms without justification is excruciating”