The federal government efforts at curbing the spread of the dreaded coronavirus appear to be negated by the activities of the security operatives enlisted in the exercise.
The ban placed on interstate movement seems to be observed only in breach as people still find their ways from one state to another. The interstate movement Edge Express investigation reveal is facilitated by security men operating at the boundary areas of two neighbouring states.
The recent alleged influx of northern youths to the South East states which has raised serious security concerns among residents within the region is alleged to have been made possible by the security men who turned a blind eye that provided free passages to the youths.
Since the alleged influx, the number of cases of COVID-19 cases have spiked up within the states in the South East. For instance, Imo States which was one of the last state in the region to experience the ailment at one point had 26 cases and have regularly been logged in the statistics.
It is the same scenario in Abia State where the governor was recently infected with COVID-19 as well as other South Eastern state. Even with the interstate ban movement between Imo and Abia State is facilitated by compromising the hordes of security men at the boundary point between the two states.
A trip to or from Aba will reveal the monumental corruption or business that thrives at Owerrinta, a boundary community between Imo and Abia States which facilitates movement between the two states.
Security operatives that are located at the place include the Soldiers, the Police, the Navy, the Road Safety, and the Abia State COVID-19 task force found on the Abia end. All the other security outfits are domiciled close to each other on both the Imo and Abia ends as they hustle for money from each motorist.
Every vehicle drops 500 naira to each of these security outfits. In some cases their agents take over the bus from the bus drivers and drive across the vehicles collect the amounts they share with the security operatives.
The racketeering going on in the area leaves the mind guessing on why security operatives who should be supporting the government programs are the ones now sabotaging it. This is not peculiar to the Abia/Imo boundary. Reports also indicate that security men facilitate interstate movement between other states.
In states where the government is strict like Rivers State, the commercial operators have had to use inner link roads to beat the interstate lockdown. While people may find it hard to enter Rivers State from Owerri through the major route, they access the oil city through Ngor Okpala, Etche.
Motorists have had to double and sometimes treble the transport fare and still get the patronage of passengers. However, as lamented by a bus driver whom Edge Express travelled with during the investigation, ”we still spend the money on the security men and go home empty handed. We are working for them and they are increasing our hardship”, he further cried out.
The driver loaded at Aba with 14 passengers at the rate of one thousand per person. He settled commission of N3,500, paid apprentice drivers (drivers without vehicle N500), bought diesel of N2000, settled security men on the road with N4000 and was left with N4000 as take home on getting to Owerri. “I am on the road because I cannot afford to stay home idle, the vehicle is mine. This is the reason drivers find it difficult to give account daily, on top of this bad road that spoils your vehicle”, the driver concluded on why he still plies when it seems unprofitable.