South-South, South-East truck drivers losing N194.4b to illegal, multiple taxation

There are indications that the Heavy Truck section of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) within the South-South/South East corridor, comprising 11 states, is losing over N194.4 billion yearly to illegal and multiple taxation.


With rising cost of goods and services across the country, amid high price of diesel hovering around N950 per litre, the drivers told The Guardian, in Abuja, that the regions are becoming a no-go area.


Groaning over the worsening state of roads within the South South and South East, especially the road from Port-Harcourt-Benin to Okene, in Kogi State, Calabar to Taraba and Enugu to Otukpa, in Benue State, Chairman of NURTW Monitoring Committee, South-Southouth East Heavy Truck, Muhammed Giwa, said over 15 members of the group have been kidnapped in the last few months by unknown gunmen.


According to him, drivers spend at least seven days crossing from 9th Mile, in Enugu, before getting to Kogi or Benue. Giwa said that sometimes truck drivers spend about 14 days before crossing into Okene, in Kogi, when traveling through the Benin-Auchi route.


Providing a series of documents and petitions, which include accident scenes and injured drivers, as well as ‘motor boys,’ Giwa said that there are rising cases of truck drivers being dragged from the steering, as batteries are removed from trucks while on motion in an attempt to collect taxes.


He noted that while taxes are better collected at loading points and designated government offices, states and local councils are looking away as illegal tax forces break windscreens, kill and injure truck drivers.


“We are suffering from illegal and multiple taxation. We have reported these issues severely and nothing is done about it.


“We have approached state governments and told them to hand over their tickets to us so that our members can pay directly to them. But after that, members of the task force, usually armed with iron, wood and other dangerous weapons, will still stop us along the highway to collect taxes, which are obviously illegal,” Giwa said.


From the association’s statistics, there are at least 1,800 trucks within the South South and South East. Each of these trucks spends about N300,000 before getting to the northern region, especially Otukpo, which is a major diversion point into the upper North, and Okene, if they are traveling through Benin Road or Ore, which borders the region into the Southwestern states.


By implication, the drivers would have paid N540 million daily, N16.2 billion monthly or N194.4 billion yearly into the pockets of individuals or groups due to these illegal tax activities.


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