“We are appealing to the enforcers of this exercise to give us some palliatives in order to cushion the effect.”
Transporters in Abia have appealed to the enforcers of the weekly sit-at-home order in the South-east to give them palliatives to cushion the effects of the lockdown on them.
Those who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent in Umuahia, the state capital, on Monday, said the development was making things difficult for them.
They complained that the transport sector was the worst hit by the directive as their vehicles were usually attacked or vandalised, while passengers on the other hand, hardly come out of their homes for fear of attacks.
Residents in the five states in the South-east have been groaning under the frequent order by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The residents have continued to comply with the Monday weekly order in spite of its suspension by IPOB who directed that it should be observed only on the days its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is to appear in court.
Mr Kanu, who is in the custody of Nigeria’s secret police, the SSS, is standing trial in Abuja for alleged treason.
Residents expressed worry that the weekly exercise would cripple the socio-economic activities in the region which is known for commerce and trade.
Henry Okezie, chairman, Abia State Drivers’ Welfare Union, said the exercise had dealt a “deadly blow” on the transport sector.
He said: “This frequent sit-at-home is really affecting us because we can’t operate if we don’t see passengers.
“Most of our members have their vehicles on a hire purchase, which means that we must work every day to meet the target.
“We are appealing to the enforcers of this exercise to give us some palliatives in order to cushion the effect.
“We have over 200 members at Isigate Park in Umuahia whose buses are operating on Umuahia-Ikwuano and Umuahia-Ubakala routes.
“Each of us makes a minimum of N10,000 daily. So any day we don’t work we lose over N2 million.”
Mr Okezie said they would continue to comply with the directive because “some of our vehicles got damaged while some passengers were injured the other time we flouted it.”
Kingsley Chijindu, a driver on the Umuahia-Aba route, said passengers were still afraid to come out, in spite of the suspension of the Monday exercise.
“Passengers are scarce on Mondays because they are afraid of being attacked on the road.
“The sit-at-home is even worse in Aba than Umuahia. So I have decided to take Monday as my day of rest till further notice.ⓘ
“We really need help either from IPOB or the government, to cover up the monetary loss because we cannot continue like this,” he said.
On his part, Victor Rowland, a driver operating on Umuahia-Ohafia route said he was okay with the weekly exercise saying it afforded him the opportunity to stay with his family.
“Initially, I was worried considering how much I was losing on a weekly basis. But I’m okay with it now because I now have time to be with my children,” he said.
Mr Rowland, however, urged the enforcers to consider an alternative in order not to destroy the people they claim they are trying to protect.