By Peter Amine
The Plateau Government on Monday suspended the operation of commercial tricycles, popularly known as “Keke-NAPEP’’, within the Jos-Bukuru metropolis.
A statement signed by Mr Cornelius Shioibial, Permanent Secretary, Cabinet and Special Services, said that the action followed a wild protest by the operators.
“The suspension is with immediate effect; the tricycle operators have taken laws into their hands and we cannot allow this chaos to continue otherwise the situation will degenerate,” the statement said.
It said that the tricycles would remain off the roads “till further notice”, and directed security agencies to deal with defaulters.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the tricycle riders had besieged the Plateau Government House, Rayfield, Jos to protest alleged extortion by government agencies.
NAN reports that the protesters, who moved through Jos town in their tricycles, blocked many roads and eventually gathered at the main entrance to the new Government House, forcing staff and visitors to use the security gate behind the premises.
A vehicle suspected to be carrying officials of the tricycles riders’ union was riddled with stones, after the riders accused them of complicity in their plight.
Some of them, who spoke with NAN, claimed that government, through the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO), was collecting all their earnings through “dubious and obnoxious taxes of different kinds”.
“We are slaving for officials of VIO and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC); they keep harassing us over one fee or the other.
“They gave us riders’ permits to use, now they are asking us to purchase drivers’ license,” one of the riders, Emmanuel Izam, told NAN.
He said that the riders were particularly angry at the exorbitant cost of a two-day training organised by FRSC that is a precondition for getting the license.
A FRSC official confirmed that the training costs N5,800.
Meanwhile, following the massive protest, the first batch of the training, which started on Monday, has been suspended.
According to Mr John Gaya, the Chief Vehicle Inspection Officer of the state, the training would resume “at a later date”.