Enugu State Government has dissolved all task forces of commercial tricycles, popularly known as Keke, in the state till further notice.
The Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Transport, Mr. Ogbonna Idike, announced this on Saturday in Enugu after a meeting with the executives and members of the commercial tricycle union.
The meeting was invoked by the ministry on the sidelines of the peaceful protest held by some members of the tricycle union on Friday over harassment and extortion by tricycle taskforce members operating within the Enugu metropolis.
Idike said that dissolution affected both legally and illegally constituted task forces for tricycle operators, adding that the dissolution was with immediate effect.
The permanent secretary lambasted the tricycle operators for not officially reporting the matter to the ministry on time as the ministry’s offices remained open for the public and road stakeholders, especially drivers/riders.
According to him, the ministry before now was not aware of this negative and inhuman development.
“Henceforth, the state government, through the ministry, will streamline and sanction all transport union task forces to conform to best practices and standards as well as ensure that hoodlums and thugs do not hijack such exercises.
“First, the union must apply and get the approval of the ministry; while those to carry out the task force duty will be well known and well profiled with numbered reflective aprons, identification cards and they must be properly dressed.
“All taskforce members must be duly trained by the ministry on how to carry out their duties in the most courteous manner that will not disturb public peace but attract commendation due to discipline and professionalism in carrying out such duties.
“The ministry will also clearly specify what an offence is and the attendant fine and penalty of such an offence. It will not be arbitrary or outright extortion again,” he said.
Idike said that the ministry officials and traffic officers work during public holidays and weekends to ensure that traffic control and issues between drivers, union members, and other road users are quickly sorted out.
“The ministry is here to promote and ensure that Gov. Peter Mbah’s target of making the state become a more productive and prosperous state for all will be achieved,” he added.
Reacting, Mr. Sunday Ozeh, Chairman of the Association of Tricycle Riders Transport Union, thanked the government for its timely intervention, noting that the association would abide by the ministry’s guidance and actions meant to streamline operation for optimal performance.
Ozeh urged the state government, through the ministry, to interface with the Council chairmen to ensure that their tricycle task force officials operate within their designated local government parks as stipulated in their mandates.
Earlier, Mr. Chinedu Nsude and Mr. Peter Emmanuel, who are keke riders, lamented how the disbanded taskforce members harassed them daily as they load passengers far away from their tricycle parks and ensure they forcefully pay N3,500 as a fine.
“If you argue over the illegal fines with them; they will allege that you have fought with them and forcefully drag you to their parks and collect N10,500 as a fine for fighting.
“We no longer meet our daily remittance to the tricycle owners; since most of them are on hire purchase agreement, due to the unwarranted intimidation and extortion by the so-called task force members,” they lamented.
The meeting was attended by officials of the Ministry of Transport as well as executive members, board members, and members of the tricycle union in the state.