Commercial drivers in Anambra State have protested what they called the increasing number of touts in all parts of the state, following their alleged encouragement by the state government.
They claimed that government-sponsored touts have introduced and duplicated all manner of levies which, they said, have negatively impacted on their daily income.
But in a swift reaction, the state chairman of the Board of Internal Revenue, Dr. Greg Ezeilo dismissed the allegation, saying the drivers pay only restructured levy in the state.
The drivers, operating under the aegis of United Mini Truck Drivers Association, Anambra State chapter, had lamented during a protest in the commercial city of Onitsha, that since the emergence of the Governor Chukwuma Soludo administration, the activities of touts popularly called Agbero, seemed to have been legalized, contrary to what the governor promised that Agberos would be abolished in the state under his reign.
According to the protesting drivers, under the present administration, all manner of uniforms are parading in the markets and streets, harassing people and forcing them to pay for one receipt or the other.
They complained that the touts posing as revenue agents had become a threat to their livelihoods by their incessant extortion and harassment on a daily basis.
Leader of the association, John Udoh called on the state government to harmonise the levies and investigate the issue, arguing that the development had negatively impacted both commercial and economic activities in the state.
He said: “ There are so many of them with different uniforms on the roads claiming to be revenue agents. We don’t know which is which. They collect money for goods and wares brought into Anambra markets, which they call ‘Ego Ibu’, meaning ‘money for load’. This action is affecting prices of goods and services as the cost of items keeps increasing.
“They engage hooligans in the name of collection of revenues from motorists and vehicles conveying goods to the markets, including wheelbarrow pushers and pedestrians.
These illegal receipts and payments seem to be the creation of high-level cabals working in association with some officials of the state government and it is crucial the state government investigates them.
“To perfect their evil motives, the revenue agents no longer use the POS as agreed upon by the state government, but rather collect cash at both the borders and markets.
“We no longer make anything as our daily income that has been badly affected by their illegal activities and this action is preventing drivers from conveying goods into Anambra markets. This has also forced drivers conveying goods to stop at the markets in neighbouring states.
“At the Ogbo Efere Market in Onitsha, the revenue agents collect N4,000, N6,000, N3,000, N1,000, from us for any goods loaded in that market, after paying the government agreed tax. This is killing business.”
But the Chairman of Anambra State Internal Revenue Service, Dr Ezeilo, said the state has its haulage tax which was divided into two categories, namely upstream and downstream.
According to him, there is nothing like “Ego Ibu” or “Offloading or loading tax.” in the state.
He explained that vehicles coming from other states which offload their goods and wares, were made to pay “downstream”, while vehicles passing through the state roads pay “upstream” and show their receipts at the border to AIRS agents.
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