The Bayelsa state sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr. Ikechukwu Igwe, has reiterated the position of the Command to arrest and prosecute tricyclists operating illegally.
He, however, denied the allegation that some officers of the Corps were extorting tricycle riders for overloading.
Igwe stated this in an interview with newsmen in Yenagoa, while responding to a petition by aggrieved tricycle operators under the aegis of Tri-cycle Riders Transporters Association and a Bayelsa state-based human rights group, Zuonaki Human Rights Initiative, over alleged extortion, intimidation and harassment of tricycle operators by officers of the Command.
He said, “They are complaining that we are doing our job, that we are arresting them for overloading and so on. All these things are offences; should we stop? Do we allow them to overload their tricycles? That last fatal accident we recorded along Amassoma, five people were involved because that Keke was overloaded. If they are carrying the normal number of passengers they are supposed to carry, we would have saved at least one life out of the number that died.
“So, should we stop arresting them for doing the wrong thing? They complained their union abandoned them because they don’t support them. All the Keke Riders are under TOAN. They have their branches, but the group that is complaining is not recognised by the Ministry of Transport. The Ministry of Transport recognises only TOAN and this group is not part of TOAN. We cannot start dealing with illegal association or lawless people that don’t want to operate under the law.
“There is no how they can intimidate us from enforcing the law. If they want to operate, they should operate under the ambit of the law otherwise they will be arrested. I have gone to the radio, television and announced, giving them numbers to call if there is any form of extortion. Ask them whether anybody has called and no action was taken. We said they should just give us a call and tell us where the thing happened.
“If they have a genuine case, the union that abandoned them could have taken it up and ask them whether they have come to my office before to lay a complaint?”
However, they alleged that persistent, indiscriminate activities of the officers, ranging from extortion and imposition of arbitrary fines in the guise of overload, expired tyres, brake light failure amongst other offences are not enforceable in other neighbouring states of Delta, Rivers and sister states of the South-south zone.