By Gabriel Chy Alonta
Hundreds of Anambra traders, under the aegis of the Anambra Street Traders Welfare Association of Nigeria (ASTWAN), Thursday morning, stormed Government House, Awka to register their displeasure over multiple and crippling levies allegedly imposed on street traders in the state.
In a statement signed by the chairman and secretary of the association, Chief Anthony Ebogha and Comrade Emmanuel Njaka respectively, the traders argued that the rate of extortion of her members had reached a worrisome state.
It read in parts: “We, the members of the above union, wish to draw the attention of state governor to incessant unbearable levies imposed on good citizens plying their trade in shop outlets located along the roads and streets spread across nooks and crannies of the state.
“The levies include, Business permit; business premises; liquor; license levy; Anambra State Waste Management Agency levy; ASWAMA waste basket fee; shop and kiosk levy; signage levy. Many of the small business owners took loans with exorbitant rates from financial institutions and are finding it difficult to survive under this harsh economic climate currently bedeviling the country. They further request that the union leaders act as a middlemen between the contractors and its members for a hitch-free operation.
Another union member, Engr. Kelvin Eberechukwu Nwoge, alleged that the tax collectors intimidated them and sometimes confiscated their wares, calling for more protection of the traders by the state government. Receiving the protesting traders on behalf of the state governor, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, assured the traders that the state government would publish authorised, legitimate levies saying that all illegitimate levies would, thereby, stop and perpetrators fished out.
“We have heard your complaints and pleas. We have started looking into it already because we frown at such development. The government is working to resolve it and is quite sad that some people are going about extorting traders for their personal gains, which government did not approve.