by John Ndu, AwkaTraders under the aegis of Anambra Street Traders Welfare Association of Nigeria (ASTWAN) have threatened to take legal action on the state government if she continues to play blind to the multiple levies imposed on the traders in the state. According to the union, traders under the present administration of Chief Willie Obiano have experienced unprecedented hardship and illegal extortion of varying degrees from both legal and illegal revenue agencies, who claimed to represent the government. The association gave this warning during interactive session of the union with some select stakeholders in the state, at Awka, the state capital. It would be recalled that hundreds of the association members had on November 29, 2018, stormed Government House, Awka to register their displeasure over multiple and crippling levies allegedly imposed on street traders in the state. The traders lamented the alleged levies and appealed for the immediate intervention of the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano. The Anambra Times also reports that the state governor, through the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, had assured the traders that the state would publish authorised, legitimate levies to be paid, saying that all illegitimate levies would stop and perpetrators fished out. However, that plea fell on deaf ears, as the traders were yet to see any fulfillment of the promised action by the state government. Speaking during the meeting, the chairman of. ASTWAN, Hon. Anthony Ebogha, disclosed that the earlier protest scared some illegal tax collectors, assuring that the union would not rest on their oars until all unnecessary levies are stopped. The Chairman said that the rate of extortion of the traders had reached a worrisome state, reiterating the union’s resolve to pay only Anambra State Waste Management Agency levy (ASWAMA); Business premise levy and liquor licence. Other levies considered as illegal by the union include Business permit, shop and kiosk levy, signage levy, Orient Weekend reports. Regretting that many of the business owners took loans with exorbitant rates from financial institutions and are finding it difficult to survive under the harsh economic climate currently bedeviling the country, Ebogho appealed that the state government should provide loans and enabling environment for businesses to thrive. He further requested that the union leaders act as a middlemen between the tax collectors and its members for a hitch-free operation, while charging the state government to fulfill its promises to the union during the last protest. Other union members, who spoke in separate interviews, re-echoed the need for government to eliminate all forms of extortion and intimidation of traders in the state, calling for more protection of the traders. Earlier, the Director of Small and Medium Enterprise, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Anambra State, Comrade Okwudili Obiefuna, said that their complaints were well noted, and assured them of a swift response. He encouraged the traders to cue into the N10 million loan initiative currently ongoing in the state, while expressing optimism that anyone who met the criteria would access the loan. While stressing that no business can be very successful without making use of loans to assist it, the director regretted that most people have not accessed such loan opportunity in the South East as against the western and northern counterparts.
Street traders threaten legal action against Anambra Govt
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