Frim Zara Nwachinemere, Abakaliki
Millers and workers at Abakaliki Rice Mill company Ltd., Tuesday, embarked on industrial action, as they protested alleged multiple taxation by the leadership of the company.
They said multiple taxation imposed by the owners of the mill has chased customers away due to increasing costs and demanded for an end to it.
They claimed that the sum of N370 is being collected from farmers per bag before they will bring in their paddy rice into the mill for processing, while another N370 is also charged per bag before the rice is allowed to be received by the owner after processing.
They said that empty bag use in bagging the rice after processing which were sold N150 is now N300 in the company and they are not allowed to bring in their own bags.
One of the millers, Irem Bernard stated: “Abakaliki rice mill since 1950 is a place where we feed the whole nation but today, only one family is enjoying, nothing is moving fine here anymore because the mill has been in bad leadership.
“My machine has broken down severally time without number because of adulterated gas here. “They imposed bags on us that immediately you put rice into it, it will tear and the rice will pour on the ground”, another miller said.
Theodore Eneh from Ogbete Main Market, Enugu, who was stranded and couldn’t buy rice following the protest, said his colleagues have stopped buying rice in Abakaliki rice mill and are now buying in the northern part of the country because of multiple taxation and unwholesome practices in the rice mill.
When contacted, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the mill, Ogodo Samuel, said the protesters were free to express their feelings.
“The most important thing is that it is being carried out within the frame of legality. “People trying to express themselves while asking this and that, I don’t think that there is anything bad about it. “Since we have not recorded any causalities or any body being hurt in anyway. It is just a peaceful protest.
“One of the reasons according to sources is the issue of revenue that we are paying which is on the higher side, even though it is not true as the case may be, because every organization has a little token you give to government.
“Following the down of Nigeria economy, most of the states have fall back on their IGR to enable them provide the need of the people and that is the area we are trying to make necessary adjustments.
“You collecting money from people is very very difficult, that is the point you people met us”.