Traders in different markets in Onitsha and its environs, Anambra State on Monday raised the alarm over method of collecting the newly introduced levy for loading and offloading of goods into heavy duty vehicles.
The traders predominantly industrialists, importers and warehouse operators, alleged that the method was exposing them to kidnappers and other violent criminals.
Addressing newsmen in Obosi, Idemili North Local Government Area, Chief Ikechukwu Asinobi, spokesman of factory and warehouse owners, located in areas such as Atani road, in Ogbaru council area, Obosi, Awada, Nkpor, Ogidi, appealed to Governor Chukwuma Soludo to revisit the method by involving more descent individuals instead of those they described as hoodlums unleashing terror on them.
He said, “While we are not opposed to the levy, even though it is high, we are demanding that the right personnel be used to collect the money, instead of hoodlums whom we know used to opportunity of collecting the levy, to monitor our movements and that of our goods and company operations.
“In fact we are being exposed to kidnappers and other violent criminals, with these kinds of hard drug smokers coming to our private companies and warehouses to demand for the money. We are not safe at all with such characters around us.
“The government said that trucks should be paying special revenue of N30,000, starting with trailers as the biggest vehicle, for every one of them that load goods or offload in the state.
“Other trucks have their own amount, ranging from N25,000 to N20,000 for ten and six tyres trucks. Some are also paying N15,000 depending of such truck, even down to the lowest which are buses, paying N5,000 to N3,000. We are not against the levy if it is want government wants.
“However, the exorbitant levy is not our problem, the main issue that is worrying us is the threat to our lives and business and the personnel that are collecting the levy for government and the contracts they employed to collect the levy for them.”
“We say no to anybody sending these characters to our personal factories, companies, and warehouses to demand for the money. They come, force our security men to open the gates and order that it will remain open until they leave the premises.
“When the levy was introduced by the present government, we thought it was for those vehicles that offload and load at the markets and motor parks, we did not know that factory, companies and warehouse owners and outside the Onitsha markets and motor parks are affected.
“That did not actually disturb us, but when we started interfacing with the people who they used to collect the money, whom most of us knows are ‘bad boys’ was when we became worried.
“We are worried that they are not only coming for the levy, but we know they use the opportunity of coming for the levy to monitor our movements as individual and our good and services. In fact we are being exposed to kidnappers with these kind of characters visiting our companies and warehouse to demand for the levy, thereby meeting us whom they don’t know before now.
“You know the security situation in the country and the state, everybody is hiding himself and managing to operate his busines. When you send these heartless boys to us as revenue agents to come and be interacting with us in the name of revenue collection, what do you think you are doing, is it not intruding into our privacy, exposing us to danger, do you think they will stop at revenue collection?
“Most of the youths being used to collect the money by the revenue contractors are drug addicts, criminals known to the society for their violent activities and those know for their touting activities, in fact 99% of them are what people people who can only be accessed by people who employed them for the revenue collection.
“Their manner of approach is zero, their mode of operation is violence, they will tell you, “Oga you either pay, the money or will destroy your property or goods”that is their mode of operation, they don’t have time to explain anything to you and any argument with them leads to destruction like they will always threaten. You can’t ask them question on anything that is not clear to you, the only thing that can he used to identity them is the Apron they wear that have inscription as “Anambra State Government Revenue Agent”
“If you insist on knowing who they are, they will flash a paper they call “Authority paper” from government which they quickly put back into their pockets or small bags they carry, they won’t even allow you to touch the paper let alone read it. They have nothing to do with law enforcement agents because they are Police and Army to themselves, the are authority themselves, they can do any violent thing, they even boast before you on their capacity for destruction.
“They come numbering between ten and more, they swoop on you demanding for money, this is serious danger we are in now, a very big security threat for us as business men and women in the state. You know the state has security issue, with this one now added to it, it is disturbing, it is threat to our lives.
“What we are complaining is that the style of collecting the levy is not safe for us, interfacing with these characters, coming to collect the levy from us is not acceptable to us, the government is exposing us to hoodlums who ordinarily does not have access to us, they don’t come close to our companies or warehouses before the levy was introduced, but with this levy, they barge into our companies, warehouses, offices in the name of revenue collection agents.