By Izunna Okafor, Awka
Some shuttle bus drivers in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State, have lamented that they are still being harrassed by touts who collect one levy or the other from them despite Governor Soludo’s ban on touting and illegal revenue collection in the state.
Narrating their ordeal, some of the shuttle drivers who spoke with this reporter in Awka identified one of the touts as Ocha, whom they say, collect 100 per trip from almost all the shuttle drivers who ply the Awka metropolis axis of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, from Amawbia Junction — Regina Junction —Aroma Junction to Eze Uzu Junction to Amansea and vice versa.
When this reporter took a tour to further investigate the report, it was observed that the tout, Ocha —a fesh fair-complexioned young man with few wrinkles on his face — positions right at the front of the Mobil Filling Station at UNIZIK Junction around where he carries out his duty on select shuttle buses.
Average-heightened, Ocha, who may be in his late twenties takes shelters under a flower in front of the filling station, from where he rushes out to ‘collect his right’ whenever he sights ‘his customers’.
It was also observed that the vibrant young tout works both under the sun and in the rain, and is ever ready to coerce and even challenge any driver who repudiates to ‘settle him’, or anyone who attempts to remind him that Governor Chukwuma Soludo has banned touting in the state.
In one of his operations, Ocha, during an argument with one of the shuttle drivers, was overhead saying: “Oga, nothing concern me concern Soludo. Nah my work I dey do; Soludo dey Government House dey do him own. So, why him go come spoil my own. Abeg settle me jare; I be Ocha, I no be Soludo. If you go Government House, tell am that on.”
Further enquires from the drivers reveal that Ocha works from morning to night on daily basis and can go any extent to enforce compliance on the drivers without fear of size or threat.
Ocha’s defiant operation is apparently antithetical to the declaration of Governor Soludo in his Inaugural Speech on Thursday, 17th March, 2022, during which he pronounced an outright ban on all forms of touting and illegal revenue collection in the state.
Although, some arrests have been made of the likes of Ocha who still defy the ban and operate unlawfully in different parts of the state before they were nabbed by the men and officers of the Anambra State Police Command
Efforts to get the reactions of the state’s Police Spokesperson, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu on Ocha’s operation, proved abortive, as he was yet to respond to his message, as at the press time.