By Ugochukwu Alaribe
UMUAHIA-Traders at the Ngwa Road Market popularly known as Ahia Ohuru (New Market), have decried the continued imposition of multiple levies, harassment, intimidation and sealing of their stalls by market union leaders for failing to pay multiple levies.
Some of the controversial levies include; income tax-N3, 600; Stallage fee-N2, 000; Infrastructural levy-N2,000; Sanitation / ASEPA levy-N3, 600, Security levy-N2,000 and Renewal of Abia State Signage Agency, ABSA levy -N3, 000.
Others are: Scooping of gutter levy-N800; fire service levy- N2, 000; renewal of business premises-N2,000 and fire extinguisher levy –N2, 000.
Vanguard gathered that Abia state government had harmonized all levies to be paid in markets in the state to the sum of N18, 000, annually.
However, traders in New Market are lamenting that market union leaders are still collecting many unapproved levies with the help of police, touts and vigilantes and vowed to resist such levies henceforth.
Lamenting the multiple levies, the traders stated that despite the order of an Abia State High Court that only Government approved levies should be collected, the market leadership is still insisting on collecting multiple illegal levies from them.
When Vanguard visited the market, many shops were sealed by the market union leaders because traders in affected shops failed to pay the N2,000, ‘fire extinguisher’ levy.
A trader in the market who gave his name as Eke said the same fire extinguishers were paid for earlier and nothing was supplied to traders.
Another trader who pleaded anonymity because of fear of intimidation said; “The one that made many of us to revolt was the locking up of our stalls, demanding N2, 000 for fire extinguisher and if you delay to pay, they’ll increase it to N3, 000. No fire extinguisher was given us the last time we paid for it.”