Travellers from Taraba and other states in the North East were left stranded as trucks drivers blocked the Wukari-Zaki-Biam Federal highway over alleged extortion by security agents.
The drivers also alleged that they were forced to pay multiple taxes to revenue collectors in both the Taraba and Benue axis of the road.
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It was learnt that the trucks drivers conveying farm produce and cows blocked the road at Joita village located at a border between Taraba and Benue states.
A truck driver, who identified himself as Ibrahim Sani, told Daily Trust in a telephone interview that the blockage started on Sunday when one of their members was beaten to a coma by a security agent at Joita checkpoint.
He said the offence of the truck driver was that he refused to yield to the demand of the security agents at the checkpoint of adding N1,000 on the fixed amount he used to pay at each of the checkpoints.
Sani stated further that there were over 95 checkpoints from Jalingo to Katsina-Ala and at each checkpoint, truck drivers were forced to pay between N2500 to N3000.
He said apart from the security agents there are also legal and illegal checkpoints manned by revenue collectors.
Sani stated that truck drivers surcharge owners of farm produce and animals worth from N250,000 to N350,000 in addition to transport money.
Finding also revealed that villagers inside Benue where buses and private vehicle owners divert to avoid the blocked axis of the road have mounted checkpoints and are forcing motorists to pay N1000 to N1300.
Daily Trust findings showed that the extortion by security agents was responsible for the high cost of grains and animals in the affected area.
“We have to regain what we spend on transporting the produce and animals and it is the consumer that bears the cost at the end,” a grain merchant said.
Another truck driver, Dauda Ali, told Daily Trust that the extortion and multiple taxes have been on for many years and they had complained to relevant authorities, but no action has been taken to address the issue.
“We are forced to block the road and we will only open the road when our demands of stopping extortion along roads in Taraba and Benue states are met,” the truck driver said.
When contacted, the spokesperson of Taraba police command, DSP Usman Abdullahi, said he was not aware of the blockage of the road by truck drivers.