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Commuters Stranded, Lament as Tricycle Operators Protest Anambra Government’s Tax Hike



By Praise Chinecherem

Traders and tricycle operators in Anambra State on Wednesday protested the new tax regime of the Anambra State governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo.

The protests, which was begun by tricycle (Keke) operators, spread to Eke Awka markets, in the state’s capital.

The Keke operators had blocked the Onitsha/Enugu expressway for hours over what they called obnoxious levies by the state government, resulting in traffic gridlock from Regina junction up to Kwata junction.

The long traffic had forced motorists to take alternative routes, while passengers trekked long distances to their various destinations.

While the tricycle operators’ protest was going on around Aroma junction, traders at the Eke Awka market joined the fray at about 12.30 pm saying that they were passing through excruciating times since the introduction of the new levy/tax regime.

The traders were made up of mostly women who traded vegetable, okoro , groundnuts and other hawkers who said they were being forced to pay multiple levies, daily.

A source told our correspondent that shop owners in the market were being taxed N14,200 monthly while the hawkers were randomly forced to pay N200 at various time and places every day.

Soludo had during a meeting with parks and market executives in Awka some weeks back hinted about introducing a new tax regime in the state.

He said the new tax regime had become imperative because the era of revenue generation through the sales of crude oil was gradually phasing out.

According to the governor, since February this year, no remittance had been done by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) into the federation account to service states.

Consequently, market leaders went round markets announcing the new levies to traders.

Speaking to newsmen, a former chairman of Eke Awka Market line 4B, Emeka Onyemaechi, said, “Last week Thursday I was inside my shop when some people started using town criers to announce that everybody should come out and pay for their stallage and other fees from Tuesday.

“I asked them how much and they said N14,200 per shop. On Friday, I went to Anambra state Board of Internal Revenue to find the true position. The information I got was that on Tuesday ,they would coming to capture shops in the market and everybody will pay N2,000 for the capturing and after that government will give account number where traders will pay other levies.

“Unfortunately , on Tuesday (public holiday) they started the capturing and collection of the N14,200.They forced traders to the market office where over 20 Point of Sale(POS) machines were stationed and traders without cash were asked to use their ATM cards to pay.

After that, I called the revenue office again and complained, they said we should go ahead and pay.”

He called on the state government to address the issues of hiring private persons to collect revenue for the state government, stating that the government should have passed circular in that respect about the new taxes/ levies if actually the levies originated from it.

He said, “Women who bring vegetable, Okoro, groundnuts and other perishables are being taxed N200 daily at each point in the market and whoever argues with levy collectors will be beaten to stupor.

Another trader in the market, Kene Obunna, said it was sad that the government was just forcing people to pay revenue using those who did not have shops in the market, adding “chairman of this market is living in a hotel without a single shop in Eke Awka.

An elderly woman, Nkiru Obiora who hawked vegetable in the market, said it was tough for them coming to the market and paying multiple levies each day, adding, ” I pay up to N600 any day I brought vegetable into this market.”

A source in Anambra state board of internal revenue , who spoke in confidence confirmed that the state government had approved N14,200 monthly payment for traders in Eke Awka, stating, “government commenced the enumeration of traders in the market last Tuesday and after the capturing everybody was given a code number to go and pay into government approved banks and PoS. 

The payment in Eke Awka market is N12,200.00 and N2000 for the capturing of traders thereby bringing it to a total of N14,200 per shop.

He said the traders would pay additional fees for identity card of N700 while the sticker which would be placed on their shops would cost N1,300.

When contacted for reaction, the press secretary to governor, Mr. Christian Aburime said government would at the appropriate time issue a statement on the development, adding “I cannot confirm if the state governor has approved the levies or not. Just give us time we shall reach out to you on the development in Eke Awka.”

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