Tricycle riders popularly known as Keke operators in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State yesterday besieged the Ughelli Area Command of the Nigerian Police in protest over alleged extortion and arrest of some of their colleagues by men of the force. The tricycle operators numbering over 1000 with their tricycles, alleged that the police were collecting between N5,000 and N40,000 from alleged violators of a new directive by the state government, which placed a ban on the operators from plying Federal roads in the state.
The Delta State Government, through the Ministry of Transport has barely announced the ban on July 27, when men of the Area Command started arresting and collecting money from the operators, some of whom claimed ignorance of the new directive. Speaking on behalf of the protesters, who also barricaded the East-West and Isoko road, causing gridlock for hours, Pastor Sunday Okorie, said the protest was over the challenges they faced with a series of government directives that tend to hinder their operations.
He said: “During this COVID-19 period we have been restricted to carry only two passengers, meanwhile some of us are balancing between N1.2 million and N1.5 million for the Keke. “So, it is already difficult for us to meet up with the new directive, but yet we are complying. “Now the state government has come up again to say we should not ride on the federal highways. “And these highways are the major roots of some of our colleagues. Secondly, the police are already capitalizing on this new directive to arrest and extort money from our people. “As soon as they see a Keke rider on the road even though you just want to turn to the other side of the town, they arrest you.”