Controversial Council Levy On Roads Sparks Protest In Delta
BEVERLY HILLS, April 13, (THEWILL) – A road tax policy by the Delta State Government which is tailored to generate revenue for the state in view of the economic crunches being experienced nationwide is causing protest around local government councils in the oil-rich state, THEWILL can report.
Thousands of Delta women took to the streets on Tuesday allegedly accusing Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of what they called the anti-people policy, which they said is unbearable for them.
It was learnt that the levies were being imposed by the councils following the dwindling monthly allocations accruing to them from the federation account.
The women numbering about twenty thousand crippled administrative and commercial activities in Udu council area on Tuesday as they staged a peaceful protest against the chairman of the council over the policy.
A similar protest was held few months ago at Oleh, headquarters of Isoko South Local Government Area by women who carried placards and leaves as they decried the insensitivity of the state government over the levy.
THEWILL learnt that the State Government under the Road Tax law is constitutionally empowered to collect fees from commercial road users.
Sources revealed that the order is a state government directive aimed at boosting the internally generated revenue, IGR of the state towards effective delivery of essential infrastructures.
Sources said that the local government council chairmen had imposed the levy which affects street hawkers selling with wheelbarrow, or carrying tray on the head.
An estimated twenty thousand indigenes including women and children trooped out on Tuesday in Udu Council Area over the alleged indiscriminate levies imposed on them by the council boss, Hon Solomon Kpoma.
Speaking on behalf of the protesting women, Madam Victory Asiofuba lamented the insensitivity of the council boss in the name of generating fund for the council at the detriment of thousands of Udu people.
She said: “I don't even know what to say right now because our hearts are full with anger against Solomon Kpoma. ‘We surprise say somebody when beg for our votes nay dey turn him back against us? We are dying in abject poverty, hence all Udu women including non indigenes mobilized to the council secretariat to protest against this oppression against Udu people by the so called Kpoma.
“We therefore appeal to the Speaker and Members of the Delta State House of Assembly to quickly call Solomon Kpoma to order in other to reverse his earlier decision of extorting money from poor women hawking periwinkle and pure water just to eat from hand to mouth.”
The protesters alleged that all traders and street hawkers in the 33 communities of Udu council are being forcefully taxed and levied indiscriminately.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards carried by the protesters read; “Kpoma we no go gree”, “kpoma we no go take ticket, kpoma no be your first time be this”, “Kpoma you are heartless”, “you deserve impeachment” among others.
The protesters at the wee hours of the morning had barricaded the entrance of the secretariat, while they closed the High Court and Customary Court in Udu for the period the protest lasted.
The protesters however called on Governor Okowa to immediately reverse all actions that are insensitive to their plight, threatening to take their protest to the Government House in Asaba and all media houses should he fail to yield to their call.
Story by Joe Ogbodu