A-28-year old female tricycle operator, Angela Umeh has raised the alarm over alleged intimidation and harassment from male colleagues within their area of operations in Awka, Anambra State.
She said the intimidation stemmed from the fact that her colleagues were feeling threatened that most passengers in the route preferred boarding her tricycle to theirs, thereby depriving them some earnings.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Umeh, a native of Okpuno, Awka South Local Government Area, who plies Aroma junction to both State and Federal Government secretariat said the recent development was unjust impoundment of her tricycle by officers of State Traffic Management Agency (ARTMA).
She appealed to Governor Chukwuma Soludo and nongovernmental organisations to intervene to ensure she could regain her impounded Keke.
The NCE holder and breadwinner of family of five, including a 70-year-old mother, said she had been out of job since then and had worsened her health challenges and that of her aged mother.
She said, “My Keke was confiscated by ARTMA team led by one Goodluck on January 30th, 2024, for allegedly violating traffic rules.
“My mother cries everyday and plead with me to take her to ARTMA’s office. But how can I since money for feeding is not there talk more of transporting her? We rely on little cash sympathisers give to me daily while making case for me at ARTMA’S office.
“My stomach ulcer has worsened. I fear that acute appendicitis doctor told me to come for surgery may rupture anytime due to my current health condition.”
While revealing that she joined transport sector due to joblessness, Umeh said it was the third time her keke had been impounded, while allegedly queering why she had a courage to delve into males dominated driving business.
“In 2022 some of my male colleagues insisted that I must leave the route for them. They even invited the police to arrest me but when we got to the station I won and they were held behind the counter instead of me.
“After they regained their freedom, they pitched interest with the ARTMA officers and barred me from driving through Aroma junction to State and federal government Secretariat.
“They demanded that we should be contributing N1000 each every two weeks and pay them as compensation for allowing us to ply through the route.
“We are complying to the directives as prompt as possible. But whenever they spot us on the route they will allow the men to pass and hold unto my tricycle,” she further revealed.
Daily Vendor gathered that Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, ARTMA, Mr Emeka Okonkwo (alias Konti) had ordered for the release of her Keke since Saturday (February 3rd, 2024) but that instruction had not been carried out to date as the officers claimed to have misplaced the key.
A team of journalists led by Comrade Osita Obi, Coordinator, Anambra State Keke Drivers Forum (AKDF), who were at ARTMA’S headquarters in Awka on Tuesday, were told by the officer in charge of operations that available records of Umeh’s “habitual arrest for violating safety rules” showed that her Keke has no ignition key.
However, after much arguments with the team, the ARTMA admitted that the Keke has key which was adequately recorded and kept under their custody as at the time one of them, Mr Princewill, who confiscated it drove into the office but the key suddenly disappeared.
“They told me they have released the Keke but I will pay for the key because they don’t know where it is again. At first, a female officer who was in charge of keeping keys asked me to find out the cost of buying a new key. I made inquiry and discovered that the cheapest one will cost N10,500.
“I agreed they will pay for it. But immediately Goodluck heard about it they insisted they won’t pay anymore. I told them I don’t have money. Besides, I committed no offence,” she added.
She, therefore, urged interventions of governor Soludo.
“My governor and all those who can help should come to my rescue. As I am talking to you now I have not been able to make my weekly commitment to the person who gave me the Keke on hire purchase. He is disturbed too. Please, everyone should help me beg the ARTMA officers to stop intimidating me because of anyone,” she further pleaded.