May 17, 2022

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PH Traders Groan Over Extortion At Oil Mill Market

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Chinecherem Doris ANYANEBECHI/Gift BARIKWA

 

Traders at the popular Oil Mill Market, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, have called on the state government to rescue them from the hands of exploitative tax collectors in the market.

In an interview with TNN, the traders lamented that on a daily basis, they were compelled to pay over N2,500 to different groups, not minding whether they had made sales for the day.

They also accused their tax masters of manhandling them and destroying their wares whenever they refused to comply. Our correspondent gathered during a visit to the market that the tax collectors were actually in the habit of confiscating and even destroying some of their wares.

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Mr. Promise Kufre, one of the traders said, “I am not comfortable with the taxes in this market. The levy is way too much. Some days, we pay N1,900 while on some days it skyrockets to N2,500, even though I pay shop rent. And again, these taxes are forcefully collected from us; both male and female traders are harassed on a daily basis for not paying these taxes.

“There are different groups who come to collect this money; we don’t even know who in particular is the chairman in charge of these taxes.”

A roadside trader who gave her name simply as Madam Joy said “the taxes have increased after the market was re-opened in August 2021. As a road side trader, I pay different amounts for tickets, ranging from N100 to N500 every day. We will not be complaining if we were making enough sales, but we do not make enough sales on daily market as we do on oil mill market day.”

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Madam Anna George, a dealer on baby wares who also spoke with TNN said “I am not happy, I feel very bad because of the disturbance I receive all the time from ticket boys. They do not care if you have been able to make sales to enable you pay them; all they care about is their money.

“These tickets cost nothing less than N500 each and at the end of the day, it sums up to N7000 or so. They come in different groups, most times you lose count of the ones you’ve paid to. They do not give room for any excuses. Once you refuse to co-operate with them, they forcefully take goods that are worth more than the ticket fee. They will only give these goods back to you when you have paid.”

Our correspondents made attempts to reach the market official they refer to as general chairman, called Chief fatty. We called his phone thrice and also sent a text message to him but he never responded as at press time.

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