TRADERS at the Ogbete main market in Enugu, the Enugu State capital, have decried the multiple taxations imposed on them by the state government through local governments and other agencies, saying they were forced to pay different types of levies in the area.
The traders, who made their grievances known when some group of local government tax collectors stormed the market at the weekend, said they were no longer making profits from their sales.
One of the traders, Mrs Janet Okafor, who narrated her ordeals, said that the level of exploitation and harassment they got from the local government agents were becoming unbearable, adding that they sometimes threatened them with arrest if they failed to pay the levies.
“We are just tired of these people. They come all the time demanding for money and warning us that they will carry your goods if you fail to pay the money. And if you don’t pay and they carry your goods, you will have to make double payments of huge amount of money before you can carry your goods back. It’s not fair”, she lamented.
When asked if they paid any fixed amount in the past, she said: “Yes, we normally pay money to them, but they have like two or three groups of tax team coming to collect money from us almost every day. They collect about N30, N50 to N200 everyday from us and it shouldn’t be so. They should have a particular amount we should be paying and when we should pay such amount like daily, weekly or monthly. They should also have one team collecting the money so that we will know who is who among them”, she said.
Another trader, who pleaded anonymity, said that he was once attacked by the tax officials for refusing to pay the multiple taxations to them.
“They came saying that I should pay them again, whereas I have paid before and I said no, I won’t. They then came to carry my goods and I resisted them, they started beating me before my fellow traders gathered and settled the whole fracas. We are just mere roadside traders trying to make ends meet and feed our families and pay our rents. If they continue like this, how do we cope in this present economic reality?”, he said.
It will be recalled that the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, had promised protesting traders who recently marched to him at Government House, Enugu over multiple taxations, that he would soon harmonise all forms of taxation in the state.