Bayelsa State Government on Monday warned youths against unnecessary interference with its ongoing projects such as the Sagbama-Ekeremor Road, urging them to refrain from collecting illegal taxes from its contractors.
The State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, issued the warning at a meeting with traditional rulers and youth presidents of some communities in Sagbama and Ekeremor local government areas in Government House, Yenagoa.
The Deputy Governor expressed displeasure over the alleged harassment of truck drivers conveying materials being used for the construction of the road by youths demanding different kinds of revenue.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo warned the youths involved in such acts in any part of the state to either desist from the unwholesome practice or face the wrath of the law.
The Deputy Governor also directed the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure to issue letters of authority to truck drivers supplying raw materials to Setraco, the Contractor handling the Sagbama-Ekeremor Road to enable them to enjoy tax waivers and unfettered movement.
Addressing the community leaders, he maintained that government attaches a high premium to taking the road to Ekeremor Town before the end of this year, and therefore, would not tolerate any bottleneck that will slow down the pace of work.
Consequently, the Deputy Governor used the opportunity to constitute a 20-member patrol Taskforce to check the issue of illegal tax collection on the Sagbama-Ekeremor Road.
The Taskforce includes the Chairman of Sagbama Local Government Area, Mr. Alale Embeleakpo, the Divisional Police Officers in charge of Sagbama Town, Ekeremor Town, and Aleibiri Federated Community.
Other members are one representative each from the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Sagbama, Aleibiri, and Ekeremor as well as youth presidents of Adagbabiri, Sagbama, Ofoni, Ayamasa, Isampou, and Ekeremor communities.
The members also include the paramount rulers of Angiama, Aleibiri, Ofoni, and a nominee from the Amananaowei of Ekeremor, His Royal Highness Agbodo Gbaseimo.
The taskforce, which is divided into two to patrol the road from the Adagbabiri and Ekeremor ends to Bulou Orua Bridge, also has the state Government Revenue Agent, Mr Doubara Kumokou, and the Chairmen of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) in charge of Bayelsa West and Oporomor Clan as members.
His words, “You will be divided into two. Some of you will patrol from Adagbabiri to Bulou Orua bridge, while the other group is to patrol from the Ekeremor/ Aleibiri end to the Bulou Orua Bridge also.
“You will be mobilized to carry out this task effectively because government will not tolerate any situation that will slow down the pace of work on that project.
“Henceforth nobody should go to any of our project sites to do any ‘marching ground thing’ with our contractors because the money we give them does not include that. We know of things you will ask from contractors that are your legitimate rights.
“But certainly not collection of money from truck drivers supplying stone base and other materials for our contractors. That must stop forthwith,” he warned.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Surveyor Moses Teibowei, called on people of the area to play supportive role to enable the present administration achieve its set target on the Sagbama-Ekeremor Road project.
On their part, all the youth presidents and traditional rulers who spoke at the meeting including Their Royal Highnesses, the paramount rulers of Sagbama, Chief Moses Magbisa and his Toru-Orua counterpart, Chief Gudslin Toun-aregha, thanked the Deputy Governor for convening the meeting.
They all expressed gratitude to the Governor Douye Diri-led administration for continuing with the project and assured government of their readiness to cooperate, in a bid, to ensure the completion of the road as planned.