Truck drivers on Saturday accused security operatives of regularly harassing and extorting them on the Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt expressway.
The drivers made the accusation at Ofeme Umuahia while protesting the alleged shooting of their members, a driver and his motor boy, by security men at a roadblock.
The drivers, who blocked the two lanes of the highway for about four hours on Saturday morning, insisted the security man who shot their members was arrested and prosecuted before they reopen the expressway.
They also alleged that they were regularly coerced to pay bribes at different checkpoints on the highway before being allowed to pass.
Two of the trailer drivers, who gave their names as Sule Idris from Jigawa State and John Nduka from Enugu State, said a tanker driver and his motor boy allegedly refused to offer a bribe at the security checkpoint at Ofeme, Umuahia, which according to them, made one of the security men in the checkpoint to shoot the driver in the leg.
According to the truck drivers, when the motor boy in the truck demanded to know the offence of his master, he was also shot by the security man.
Motorists and travellers experienced terrible gridlock as a result of the protest.
The intervention of the Abia State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, Mr Paul Ugwu, did not pacify the drivers.
Commercial and private vehicles going to Enugu and the country’s northern parts were stranded as they were delayed for about four hours.
Those coming from the Enugu end of the road and going to Aba, Port Harcourt, Umuahia, Uyo, Calabar were trapped on the other side of the road.
Some drivers who were conversant with Abia terrain negotiated to Ihite Uboma and Mbano in Imo State State to connect Owerri, Onitsha and some other towns.
The alleged shooting of the driver and his motor boy happened just six days after a staff of Abia State Vigilante Service killed a De Choice Restaurant staff in Umuahia for demanding the payment of his four months’ salaries.
Meanwhile, the Abia State Government, on Saturday, lifted the ban on the movement of trucks and trailers in the State between the hours of 6:am and 9:pm.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, in a statement signed by Secretary to the State Government, Chris Ezem, said the lifting of the ban was with immediate effect while directing the state’s Economic Advancement Team to install necessary signage in strategic locations for speedy control of heavy trucks.