Etsako West Truck Drivers Protest bad Roads, Blockage of Alternative Routes

By DADA AYOKHAI

The face-off between truck drivers under the aegis of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, and the Edo State Government has escalated, leading to a protest, yesterday, in the full public glare, by the Etsako branch of the union.

The NURTW members blocked the popular Jattu junction along with the busy Benin- Okene highway, to protest against the poor state of the road which has made vehicular movement slow, tedious and nightmarish as well as to show their displeasure over the “blockade” of the alternative routes within the Auchi metropolis, in compliance with the directives of the state government.

Recall that penultimate week the state government wielded the big stick on the Heads of the Local Government Administration in Owan East and West respectively, for allowing the heavy-duty truck drivers to make use of the township roads as alternative routes.

The Head of the local government administration, Etsako west local government,Mr Desmond imonikhe diligently enforced the state government directives on no vehicular movement for Heavy duty trucks within the metropolis.

The aggrieved union members, in their claim, asserted that the “closure” of the routes is impacting negatively on their commercial activities, saying the bad state of the entire portion of the Benin- Okene highway compelled them to resort to using the alternative routes to reach their various destinations.

They further added that the directive by the state government for the routes to be “closed” has imposed additional hardship and pain on them.

They also accused the local governments of not putting to good use the various levies paid by them, some of which ranged from N4, 000 to N6, 500 per truck, depending on size.

Some of the protesting truck drivers, who said they have not been gainfully engaged in the past weeks and months, narrated their ordeal, saying the situation has rendered them helpless, not because their trucks are bad or they simply don’t want to work but because the bad state of the roads and the closure of the alternative routes have placed them in a precarious situation and appealed to the government to come to their aid in good time before starvation steps in.

A visibly angry truck driver retorted thus: “I have two wives and children to feed but look at how the inaction of the government to fix the roads has rendered me useless. If I don’t work how am I supposed to meet my responsibilities? This driving is the only trade I know.

” My major headache now is how to service the N15m loan I collected to buy the truck. The federal road is bad and impassable the state road which should have served as an alternative has been blocked. How am I explained to work and earn money to cater to my family’s needs as well as repay the loan?”

The protesting truck drivers have, however, resolved to stay put on the Jattu junction for as long as it takes the federal and state governments to accede to their demands.

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