Traders in Ogbette Main Market, Enugu have expressed disaffection with the multiple taxation and levies in the market.
The traders also feared a possible outbreak of epidemic in the market due to the overflow of waste from a sewage in the nneigbouring premises of the Nigerian Correctional Service (former Nigerian Prisons Service)
They spoke at a sensitisation programme organised by a non-governmental organisation, called Strengthening Citizens Resistance against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project.
The taxes and levies were introduced by the market leadership as well as state and local governments.
One of the traders, Mr Patrick Ezema, said that they were emburdened with different types of levies and taxes that were affecting their businesses.
Ezema listed some of the levies to include sanitation levy, annual levy, EEDC levy, packing late levy and special security levy.
He said that they were more worried with the introduction of three other levies, including wheel barrow permit, hawkers’ permit and eating permit.
He said that the eating permit was being paid by caterers in the market, adding that stall levies were rising in geometric progression annually.
He said, “Some of these levies are unacceptable to us because their impact was not being felt in the market.”
Ezema wondered why wheelbarrow pushers and sachet water hawkers, who were struggling to survive, would be made to pay levies in the market.
On the overflow of waste into the market, he said, “many of us have fallen sick as a result of the human waste that flows into the market from the neighbouring building.”
Ezema called for urgent measures to check the situation to avert a possible outbreak of epidemic in the market.
Also, Mr James Ukomadu, another trader, appealed to the state and local government to build a clinic in the market to handle minor health issues and emergencies in the market.
Ukomadu also charged the market leadership to build necessary infrastructure in the market to justify the huge levies paid by traders.
Mrs Chinyere Ukatu appealed to the government to sink a borehole in the market, saying that the lack of potable water was affecting them.
In a speech, the Executive Director of DEDSRI, Ms Ogechukwu Enwelum, said that the aim of the sensitisation was to get first hand information on the issue of multiple taxation in the market.
Enwelum said that the organisation discovered from their investigation that the traders were grappling with multiple taxation.
She said that the situation was inconsistent with the reputation of Enugu as a state with a conducive environment for business.
“We call for advocacy to enable us understand the situation. We want businesses to grow in the state,” Enwelum said.
She also said that the group needed to know if there was an accountability forum in the market.
The issue of multiple taxation had been a recurrent phenomenon in the state.
Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had at different fora expressed willingness to harmonise the levies.
SCRAP-C project, which is funded by the UKaid, is designed to build the capacity of the citizenry in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
It was a brainchild of ActionAid Nigeria and being implemented in the state in partnership with Divine Era Development and Social Rights Initiative.
The programme is currently being implemented in six pilot states of the federation. (NAN)