The Wheelbarrow protesters.

Eben Enasco Reporting.

In Benin City, the Edo State Capital, Protesters under the aegis of Wheel -Barrow Association, WPA, are poised to remain on the street until the government intervenes over the excessive billings on its members.

The protesters who stormed out from the blues and hit the Oba Ovoramwen square in their numbers accused some persons who go about with the Sobriquet, “AT” disguising as government agents to place an undue levy on them at the popular Oba Market in Benin City.

Otunba Adebayo who claimed he was the Chairman of the Association in a chat with our correspondent hinted that the collectors started with 50 naira per day and suddenly hiked the levy to 700 naira per Wheel Barrow every day.

Adebayo explained that the money is not only paid to a particular agent, but to three different groups that come to them at various intervals in the morning, afternoon, and evening.

In his words: “We are out today for the protest because of the problem we have been facing in the Oba Market. When they started, they were collecting N50 naira. From N50 it is now N700 naira, and we are not slaves”.

“That is the reason for the protest. The money they are collecting from us is too much. They would collect the money in the morning, afternoon, and evening per wheelbarrow”.

The government didn’t ask them to collect N700 Naira from anybody. The government did not also tell them to fight anybody, injure people in the market.

The embarrassment is too much. If you go to the hospital now, you will see a lot of wheelbarrow pushers lying sick in the hospitals. Some of us have given up the trade because of the increase.

“How much are we working? Some will rent wheelbarrows for N300 naira and work at most N3000 naira a day, while some will not work as much as that. That is how we have been sustaining ourselves in the business.

Those that work between N700 naira and N1000 naira a day, if you remove N300 naira, how much will now be left for the person? Nothing”, he exclaimed.

“The protest will from today last till next week if the government did not answer us or do something positive,” he vowed.

For the intervention of the local vigilante and the police operatives who were on the ground to quell the rising tension, the protest would have spilled off amidst the high cost of living.

Meanwhile, in most markets in the state, increasing food items had been attributed to the influence of unions who takes turns to impose prices of the commodity in the regular markets.

They are also believed to impose between N50,000 to N70,000 Naira to join the various Unions.

According to sources, intending traders who don’t belong to the same Union are not allowed to trade within the markets.

Some persons, according to the source who dared the union have been, threatened, beaten to pop, and their farm produce seized with no one to the rescue.

This development has raised concerns and created uneven prices on articles across local markets as buyers and relevant stakeholders within the metropolis continue to call for the enactment of fixed prices to regulate unchecked increases to food items that have become a thorn in the flesh of the people.

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