Edo market women protest N1000 palace sacrifice levy
Hundreds of traders of the popular Oba Market in Benin City, Edo State, on Wednesday protested alleged extortion by waste managers, in connivance with their market leaders and Oredo local government council officials.
The traders, both men and women took their grievance to the Nigeria Union of Journalists Press Centre, where they were received by the Chairman of NUJ, Festus Alenkhe.
Spokesperson of the traders, Veronica Eboshiogue, accused the council officials of being insensitive to their plights, even as they accused their leaders in the market of minding only what comes to their individual pockets.
According to her, “Those days, we used to have associations, but now everybody is after his pockets, they just wake up and impose levies and nobody can speak for us. If it was the time of Oshiomhole, when we cry out like this, the government will answer us, but now nobody helps.
“In December they said we should pay N1000 for sacrifice from the palace and if you don’t pay they will pack your things away. The same last year, they increased our fee for sanitation from N200 to N500 and less than one year again, last Monday, they just pasted a notice that everybody will now be paying N1000 for sanitation while, squatters will be paying N150 daily.
“Recently they came to collect N1000 each to clean our drainage, only for us to discover they were directed to come and clear and not collect money from us,” she added.
Also speaking, Blessing Osaro said “They have broken the market walls and allocated to people so we that are inside cannot even sell, yet we are the ones paying”
When contacted, the Director of Revenue, Oredo local government council, Agbons Uyigwe, said the increment resulted from complains from waste managers over running cost of business, including high cost of diesel.
He added that the new rate was a compromise compared with what they demanded.
“We cannot leave our markets in the filthy situation they are with lassa fever, monkeypox prevailing. So, we met the waste managers and they suggested that instead of N500 sanitation levy from store owners and N50 from squatters, the store owners should now pay N3,000 monthly while the squatters will pay N300 daily.
“We told them it is not possible, so we agreed that for the stores, we will increase it to N1000 and for squatters to N100 against what they were requesting,” Uyigue said.
Commenting on the breaking of market walls for allocation, Uyigue said that would be taken care of once the council is able to raise the needed funds to rebuild market which was gutted by fire few years ago.