After many months of disagreements and protests over ticket levy on keke operators in Akwa Ibom State; a wild protest last weekend by the operators made government to back down on an earlier decision to impose N400 flat rate on keke. After the motorcycles were phased out in 2010 and keke introduced the operators were made to pay N250 within a particular area of operation, making room for multiple levies of the said amount in contiguous local government areas such as Itu and Uyo.
The suspension of levies for over four months, was governments first response to the protests and then, when it returned with N400 last week, it faced the wrath of the operators again until it finally crashed.
It was gathered authoritatively that Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Godwin Ntukudeh last Friday at Community Primary School opposite Afaha Ube Street, Uyo announced officially the reduction of ticket fee for keke riders in the state from N400 to N200 daily excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.It will be recalled that few weeks ago, Ministry of Transport, Akwa Ibom State imposed a ticket fee of N400 which attracted comments across the entire state and beyond.The commissioner for transport also announced the dissolution of the levy implementation committee. Promising that a new one, to be established will be domiciled in the Ministry.
He said government has purchased five towing van saying government will provide telephone numbers to be called for the towing of broken down vehicles.Speaking, Mr. Jeremiah Eseme Jackson who led the other faction of the real keke operators said that having considered the imposition of N400 on the members of the Akwa Ibom State keke operators Association by the self-styled keke operator Executive members and the Ministry of Transport that brought about confusion and riot in Uyo metropolis, the real keke operators rose up to the challenge and condemn the act in totality.
Mr. Jackson further stressed that in order to salvage the ugly situation, members of the association frowned seriously at the imposition, saying, that the decision of the earlier imposed N400 was taken against the wish of members of keke operators.He noted that, such levy was detrimental to all keke riders.Meanwhile, Mr. Jackson while commending the state governor, Chief (Dr.) Godswill Akpabio said that, the governor, Obong Akpabio has done the entire members of keke operators proud, adding that, the governor was not properly briefed of the first decision taken in favour of the earlier N400, that the information given to him was from a wrong source.
Mr. Jackson onbehalf of keke riders promised to be loyal to the administration of Chief Akpabio.However, Mr. Jackson while condemning the poor representation of the present leadership of Akwa Ibom State keke operator association, maintained that the executives be dissolved forthwith, promise that he will mobilize real keke operators to form a union, that will understand the plights of members. It is wrong to come from outside the operators to Lord over them. He recommended that a new committee be set up and members drawn from the real keke operators to sell tickets henceforth.He argued that, it was out of place for a non rider to head the association that belongs to keke operators.
Also, Mr. Jackson charged the state Ministry of Transport to relinquish the duty of selling the tickets in the state to members of keke association which according to him would be better harnessed than using touts to harass members who belong to the association in the name of collecting levy.Earlier, chairman, keke operators Association Mr. Enang has said that the pronouncement by the Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Ntukudeh was satisfactory.According to Mr. Enang the decision by the transport commissioner came at the right time, when protests trailed the action of imposition of N400 on the poor keke operators.
Similarly, Mr. Godwin Essien while speaking with The Sensor reporter said that, the position of keke operators in the state over flagrant imposition of fees at all times is that, further action from any quarter would be challenged.He thanked the state governor for his gesture to the keke operators in the state.
By: Ekwere Joshua