A report by The Nation has shown that thousands of travellers were on Thursday night held hostage at various checkpoints along the Rivers axis of the East-West road following their failure to beat the curfew imposed by Governor Nyesom Wike.
The Governor on Thursday placed restrictions on movement of persons and vehicles in the 23 local government areas from 10pm to 6am to check security breaches that led to the killings of security operatives by gunmen in the state.
But efforts by many residents and visitors to enter the state before 10pm on Thursday proved abortive as they were compelled by security operatives to remain at various checkpoints close to Port Harcourt till the expiration of the curfew at 6am on Friday.
Frustrated passengers and motorists especially persons, who travelled from Lagos, Delta and Bayelsa states through the East-West road passed the night in their vehicles till daybreak.
Investigations revealed the travellers would have entered the state before 10pm had traffic jam not occurred at the Ahoada axis of the East-West road.
It was observed most of the travellers got to Ahoada, which is about 45 minutes to Port Harcourt at 6pm but were held up till 10pm.
The Ahoada traffic congestion was caused by trailers that broke down and blocked a significant portion of the highway.
One of the faulty trailers was carrying a swamp buggy excavator, which narrowed the road and affected free-flow of traffic.
It was gathered some policemen at some of the checkpoints seized the opportunity to extort desperate drivers, who passed such areas but discovered they could not go further on getting to the next checkpoint.
One of the policemen, who compromised their checkpoint said: “Governor Nyesom Wike has given an order but if you want me to disobey it pay N500 each,” while rejecting all entreaties from drivers, who bargained for N300.
But the policemen at Emouha checkpoint refused to compromise as they insisted that all travellers must remain there until expiration of the curfew in strict obedience to the order.
The policemen refused offers of N500 from some of the drivers and only granted access to all the vehicles by 6am.
Some of the travellers voiced their frustration, saying the Governor should have given one day grace before implementing the curfew.
A female passenger, who passed the night in a vehicle with her six-month- old baby, described the journey as harrowing.