Commercial drivers in Anambra State held a peaceful protest yesterday against Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s proposed new tax of N25,000 per month under the umbrella of the Main Market Electrical Drivers Welfare Association, or MEDWAS.
The drivers began the protest exercise as soon as MEDWAS Chairman, Mr. Michael Mbele, informed them that plans had been made to begin enforcing the payment following a meeting with a group of state government officials from Awka.
According to Mbele, “I did not issue the directive in my capacity, I only passed on the information handed down to me by a team of state government officials after talks were held on the new proposed tax rate.
“As a driver too, I feel that the new tax of N25,000 is on the roof tops and I am also calling on the state government to have a rethink on the implementation, which could lead to more suffering on the part of the drivers.”
However, the drivers, who didn’t take the development kindly, took to the streets, demanding clarification from Governor Soludo, who had suspended the payment of any form of tax and levy until he recently announced the introduction of a digitalized payment system, which according to a spokesman of the protesting drivers, Mr. Magnus Dike mandated them to pay N4,000 monthly to a private firm set up by the state government to collect tax on its behalf.
“When Soludo came into power, he warned us to stop paying taxes or levies to anybody and also told us that a new tax rate of N4,000 every month under a new digitalized payment scheme, which we all agreed to but shocked when our chairman told us that, henceforth. We will now pay N25,000 a month.
“Most of us don’t own the vehicles, we operate on a hire purchase scheme. How then can we pay the owners, and fend for our families? Please call Soludo’s attention to our plight, we want to know if this new directive is from him through a reliable channel of communication like the newspaper or radio,” Dike said.
While commending the governor for his efforts so far in restoring sanity on the roads another driver, Mr Chuks Nnadozie, appealed for a reduction in the new tax due to the bad roads in the state.
“The roads are bad, the traffic situation is getting worse and we are finding it difficult to make as much number of trips as before, so, it’s important the government considers our challenges before implementing such an outrageous tax, which we cannot afford going by our daily income and expenses.”