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Plateau truck drivers declare sit-at-home over restriction of movement



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Transporters and other trade unions in Plateau State, under the aegis of the Plateau State Joint Transport, Traders, and Marketers Association, declared on Tuesday that there would be a sit-at-home day across the state on Wednesday, April 4, 2024. 

The group’s spokesperson, Abubakar Garba, announced this at a news conference in Jos, the Plateau state capital, on Tuesday, saying their action was aimed at expressing their opposition to the executive order signed by the state governor, Caleb Mutfwang.

Mutfwang had last month signed Executive Order No. 003, 2024, to control the illegal erection of buildings and traffic jams in the state.

Hart Bankat, the General Manager of the Jos Metropolitan Development Board, stated that the executive order became necessary due to the indiscriminate manner in which buildings were being erected and traffic control had deteriorated within the Greater Jos Master Plan, as well as the prevalence of building collapse in the state.

The presidential order prohibited trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles from entering the Central Business Area (Jos-Bukuru Metropolis) between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., while violators’ cars would be seized and their drivers would be fined N500,000.

However, on Tuesday, Abubakar Garba, spokesman for the Plateau State Joint Transport, Traders, and Marketers Association, who led other members of the association to a press conference in Jos, rejected the executive order, describing it as an infringement on their fundamental human rights and detrimental to the state’s business survival.

He stated that, due to the executive order, no truck owners are currently ready to transport commodities from other states to Plateau State. Garba, who regretted the seizure of their trucks by task force officers, demanded their immediate release.

Garba, who regretted the seizure of their trucks by task force officers, demanded their immediate release.

He said, “The last time we checked, we found out that the roads that the government is barricading for us not to follow belong to the Federal Government, which constructed them to ease movement from one state to another and for vehicles within the country.

“Based on this development, restricting any vehicular movement on those roads is an infringement on our fundamental rights of movement as guaranteed by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We therefore call on the government of Plateau State to retract its steps on this executive order by releasing our impounded trucks immediately, providing designated routes for trucks, and allowing trucks moving goods to their states like Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Borno, and Jigawa states to use the bye-pass roads to their destinations.

“We further urge the government to construct test terminals for the efficient working of the executive order and also to reduce the restriction time from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. to reduce the hardship faced by truck owners and the high cost of goods and services for the citizens.

“We will continue to use all available legal means for the enforcement of our fundamental rights even as we have resolved to declare tomorrow, Wednesday, April 3, 2024, as a warning strike to sit at home to show our dissatisfaction with the sad executive order 003, 2024, and we shall continue until a lasting solution is found.”

When contacted, Musa Ashoms, the state commissioner for information, stated that government officials were meeting with trade union representatives to clarify any remaining questions about the executive order, which he said had become permanent.