By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Drivers of heavy duty trucks passing through Minna on Wednesday took their pound of flesh on Niger State Government over its decision in banning them from plying roads under its control in parts of the state.
Trailer and tanker drivers as well as other articulated vehicles resolved to abandon their vehicles mid road at Paiko junction to block all other vehicular movements to and from Abuja to Minna, the state capital as the ban on heavy duty trucks passing through the state capital and other major towns in the state began Wednesday morning.
A long queue of commuter and private vehicle owners were caught up in the melee as the drivers of the heavy duty trucks abandoned their vehicles blocking all passages on the Minna – Paiko axis of the Minna – Suleja road as early as 8:00am.
For hours, the vehicles coming to Minna from Abuja axis and those going from Minna towards Abuja axis had to divert through bush paths to beat the blockade by the abandoned vehicles stationed at the Paiko junction.
The state government had announced it was closing it’s roads to heavy duty trucks mid night on Tuesday. The closure was flagged off at Bida axis and the same was to be done at Tegina, Mokwa and Lambata axis.
But by Wednesday afternoon, reports indicated that the national body of Petroleum Tanker Drivers had asked all it’s members nationwide to stop lifting fuel from Lagos to the north in reaction to the decision of the Niger state government to close it’s roads to heavy duty trucks passing through the state capital.
At the time of writing this report, it was not certain if the state government was going to buckle to pressure from stakeholders or the blackmail by the drivers of the heavy duty vehicles.
On Thursday, a handful of tanker vehicles, trailers and other big haulage vehicles were noticed plying the Suleja to Minna road.
Meanwhile, the heavy duty trucks abandoned earlier on Wednesday morning at the Paiko junction had been evacuated from where they were kept but some of them were moved to both sides of the shoulders of the road.