Protesters under the aegis of Hearse, Ambulance, Casket, Mortuary Decorators Union have threatened strike actions while lamenting about the unlawful collection of revenues by touts in Abia State.
They marched through major roads in Umuahia, the state capital, causing heavy traffic snarl around the metropolis.
They blared sirens and put on their vehicle headlamps as they drove around at a snail pace, drawing the ire of other road users.
Addressing newsmen in front of Gity Gate Mortuary, Umuahia, where they took off, Chairman of the union, Comrade Uche Kalu, said touts operating as revenue taskforce had not given their members any breathing space in the state as they kept extorting money from them.
According to him, the louts subject the members to all sorts of payments ranging from N2,000 to N10,000 without receipts.
He said that the revenue collectors even broke their vehicles’ windscreen, side mirrors and lights in some instances in a desperate bid to extort money from them.
The chairman argued that their members “are not commercial drivers but are into humanitarian services” and should not be subjected to extortion in the name of revenue.
He called on the state government to order the louts to stop disturbing his members to enable them operate without hitches.
The union members threatened to embark on one month strike should the harassment of their members persists after the peaceful protest.
He said, “We want the government to stop these ‘touts’ (louts) from disturbing us. They break our vehicles and delay our movements not minding whether we are carrying sick people or dead bodies.
“What we are doing is humanitarian services and should not be treated as commercial drivers. Five minutes delay of ambulance on the way is dangerous. This madness has to stop! Government must caution these touts.”
Asked if they had formally notified the state government, he said the union had in 2007 during the administration of ex-Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, written to the governor but no action was taken.
He, therefore, appealed to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to come to their rescue.