Yenagoa stood still as Keke Operators crippled activities – DAY 1

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Commercial activities in Yenagoa were on Monday disrupted as tricycle operators, popularly known as “Keke drivers” embarked on a sit-at-home action.

The operators, under the umbrella of their unions, are on a five-day warning strike to kick against multiple taxes levied by state government agencies.

A correspondent who visited some markets in the state capital observed that several shops were closed as traders could not get to their business premises because of difficulty in getting transportation.
This was in spite of the availability of the few taxi drivers in the capital who continued to make brisk business.

A trader in Yenagoa, Mr Jonathan Enoh, described the strike as worrisome, urging the tricycle unions and the state government to resolve the matter.
He said, “It is a difficult situation in a state like Bayelsa, where Keke operators dominate the intra-state commercial transport business.

“We, the business people, are the ones suffering it because there are few taxis operating; the government should look into the matter, rather than allow the strike to continue.”
Mrs Grace Uka-aku, also a trader, advised that unions and governments across the country to learn to dialogue on issues before they escalated to bad situations.

A taxi driver, Mr Akin Mohammed, said there was no increase in transportation fare, as the cab operators had sympathy for the tricycle operators and could not exploit the situation.
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He said, “We cannot increase fares because of this; we have feelings too, especially now that the country is going through economic recession.
“The union and the government should get into a roundtable.”
The Secretary, Tricycle Operators Union, Swali Unit, in Yenagoa Local Government Area, Mr. Mike Ekiko, said the strike was to call government’s attention to the exorbitant taxes.

Ekiko said that all members of the Keke Owners and Drivers Association of Nigeria and some other unions in the state were involved in the strike.
He said, “We went on strike to protest the multiple taxes being collected from us by the Bayelsa government agencies.
“It is seriously disturbing to us and is agonising to our members.
“It is pertinent to note that many of these Keke drivers are driving on hire purchase basis and they also have families to cater for; how can we be paying N6, 500 for only one ticket? It is too exorbitant.
“There are other taxes raging from N250, N1,000 and N2,500 and we have been paying them without grudging over the years, but we cannot continue any longer.
“We are appealing to the state government to come to our help to ameliorate our suffering.”
The state Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the IRS could not be reached for their reactions.

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