The Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria on Friday appealed to the Lagos state government, to intervene over the issue of arbitrary taxation and extortion by street urchins.
Gbenga Komolafe, General Secretary, FIWON, said in a letter addressed to the Speaker, Lagos House of Assembly that street urchins (agberos) have deprived the government opportunity of getting the right revenue.
He said that such revenue was being lost to state government through extortion exerted by street urchins on commercial danfo, tricycle and motor cycle operators.
Komolafe said: “These operators are made to pay between N3, 000 and N5, 000 daily to street urchins who do not remit any money to the public purse.’’
He said that the problem of arbitrary taxation and extortion should be addressed because the ‘Ground Rent’ paid annually by mechanics to the Ministry of Transport has been increased.
According to the FIWON general secretary, the money has been increased from between N15, 000 to N25, 000 per annum to N150, 000 to N180, 000 per annum.
He further said that traders in the markets are made to pay for every service including use of toilet, purchase of water as well as, ‘weekend’ levies to undesignated authorities, apart from the personal income tax.
He decried the recent case of Babs Animashaun Mechanic Village where anti-land grabber’s task force under the State Ministry of Justice used cudgels, machetes and firearms to violently evict mechanics.
The FIWON scribe said that this was in spite of the fact that the mechanics were awaiting resolution of the petition written to the State Assembly of an earlier attempt to evict them.
He said it was regrettable that four decades after Alhaji Lateef Jakande’s administration created public spaces to be used as mechanic villages, woodwork and aluminum fabrication, it has not been expanded.
He said that instead of continuously evicting artisans from their clusters, government should expand, rebuild and modernise these structures.
Komolafe called for the abrogation or substantial amendment of the Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003.
He further said that the Lagos State Informal Workers Negotiating Platform should be set up to be made up of representatives of informal workers’ organisations and selected local development experts.
He said that the focus on such representatives would be to advice and negotiate with the government on issues of physical development, taxation and infrastructural provisioning.