Majority of passengers in Owerri, Imo State capital were stranded today following the “invasion” of a Special Task Force constituted by the Imo State government to nab taxi operators who fail to paint their taxi cabs with approved yellow and black strip as approved by the State government.
The Task Force came up barely few days Douglas road was shut down as agents of the State government clamped down on illegal and street traders. It said the measures are in line with its urban renewal programme
Our reporters observed that most of the passengers were stranded as operators of taxi cabs who have not complied with the order of the State government to paint their cabs with approved colours vanished into thin air shortly after the Task force resumed duties. Along Wethedral and other major roads in the city, most of the passengers had a herculean task getting taxi cabs with the approved State government colours to convey them to and from their destinations. This led to trekking by some of the passengers who lamented in low tones on the situation.
However, a taxi operator who spoke on condition of anonymity complained on the high cost of painting his cab with the approved colours. He alleged for a bus to be painted will cost N85,000. Taxis are to pay N65,000. He said the cost is on the high side wondering how he will raise the money when he is out of business and chased around by Task Force operatives.
The Okorocha administration had banned keke operators last year and replaced them with taxis in line with his government urban renewal programme. Shortly after the introduction of new taxis, unauthorized persons flooded the streets with all sorts of vehicles as taxis ostensibly to cushion the effect of the ban on keke.