Thousands of commuters were stranded on Monday as commercial bus drivers withdrew their services from some parts of Benin roads over alleged extortion by personnel of the Edo State Traffic Management Agency and Public Works Volunteers.
Commuters going from Wire Road to Ugowo and New Benin to Ugbowo had to trek long distances before they could get vehicles. The vehicles terminated their trip at Uselu forcing them (the commuters) to trek the remaining distance to their destinations as the protesting bus drivers blocked parts of the Benin/Ugbowo Road.
The drivers took over some sections of the road causing gridlock in some areas while other sections were completely deserted.
One of the drivers, Emmanuel Kanya complained that there were not enough signs on the road to show where they can park or not and that the extortion by the official of the PUWOV was telling on their ability to pay back the buses they have acquired on hire purchase for between N2.7m to N3m.
But the Managing Director of EDTSMA, Dennis Oloriegbe denied the allegation, saying, “We have gone the extra mile to educate them on where they should park and where not to. We put signposts at designated places and they go to remove them at night. We have arrested a driver with our signposts in his boot so they have to obey the laws.”
He, however, said the Agency is in discussion with the drivers.
Also, residents of Oghede and other communities near the bypass along Benin/Warri Road blocked the road for the fourth day complaining about its bad state that has made it impossible to commute from one area of the community to another.
A resident in the area, Omo Osifo said the reason for the protest was that lives were being lost in that area due to the poor state of the road, noting that a man was recently killed by a truck that was driving against traffic to avoid the bad spot.
He said, “Why should the not fix that road? We heard that the state is saying it is a federal road, but how does that concern us? We don’t know federal road, we know we are in Edo State where there is a We have the local officials, we have the oil and gas commission, we have NDDC, we have commissioners but nobody is listening to us.
“If it is a federal road, Governor Obaseki should inform the federal about it. How will you feel if your children are unable to go to school and write their exams due bad roads?”
Head of Road Maintenance of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency in Edo State, Ben Olisa did not reply a message that was sent to his phone.