Abia transporters are begging IPOB for palliatives to ease the economic hardship they are going through, claiming that they lose millions of naira because of the weekly sit-at-home order in the South-East.
“This frequent sit-at-home is affecting us because we can’t operate if we don’t see passengers. Most of our members have their vehicles on hire purchase, which means that we must work every day to meet the target,” said the chairman of Abia State Drivers’ Welfare Union, Henry Okezie. “We are appealing to the enforcers of this exercise to give us some palliatives to cushion the effect.”
They said on Monday that the order had made life difficult for them and that the palliatives would cushion the lockdown effect.
The transporters complained that the transport sector was the worst hit by the directive. According to them, drivers are targets of violent attacks with their vehicles vandalised and that passengers hardly come out of their homes for fear of attacks.
Prominent figures and residents in the five states of the South-East have also complained about the sit-at-home order of the proscribed separatist group.
Residents expressed worry that the weekly exercise would cripple the socio-economic activities in the region.
Mr Okezie added, “We have over 200 members at this Isigate Park in Umuahia whose buses are operating on Umuahia-Ikwuano and Umuahia-Ubakala routes. Each of us makes a minimum of N10,000 daily. So any day we don’t work, we lose over N2 million on average.”
He further stated that they would continue to comply with the directive because some of their vehicles were damaged while some passengers were injured when they flouted it.
Also, a driver on the Umuahia-Aba route, Kingsley Chijindu, said the passengers were still afraid to come out, despite the purported suspension of the weekly sit-at-home.
“Passengers are scarce on Mondays because they are afraid of being attacked on the road. The sit-at-home is even worse in Aba than Umuahia. So I have decided to take Monday as my day of rest till further notice,” Mr Chijindu explained. “We need help either from IPOB or the government to cover up the monetary loss because we cannot continue like this.”
On his part, Victor Rowland, who operates on the Umuahia-Ohafia route, said he was okay with the order, saying it allows him to stay with his family.
“Initially, I was worried considering how much I was losing every week. But I’m okay with it now because I now have time to be with my children,” he said.
However, Mr Rowland urged the enforcers to consider an alternative not to destroy the people they claim they are trying to protect.