Edo State Government has rolled out the daily levies and rates to be paid by operators in the commercial transport sector in the state.
In a release by the Chief of Staff, Hon Patrick Obahiagbon, the Government said while its ban on the collection of rates by some unions in the sector remains in force, it has authorized Akugbe Ventures to collect Personal Income Tax from operators in the sector on its behalf.
The statement reads: “It is hereby announced for the information of the general public that the Edo State Government’s ban on various unions including the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Drivers’ Welfare Scheme and other illegal collectors of levies and rates in the transport sector remains in force.
“The only revenue collector authorized by government in the transport sector is Akugbe Ventures and they are authorized to collect Personal Income Tax from the following categories of persons only:
‘Commercial inter-state motor vehicle drivers at the rate of N150 per day per driver;
‘Commercial intra-state motor vehicle drivers (including taxis, buses and tricycles) at the rate of N100 per day per driver;
‘Commercial Motorcycle (Okada) riders at the rate of N50 per day per rider.
“The Governor wishes to emphasise that anybody or group that acts in breach of this directive will be prosecuted and appropriately sanctioned within the provisions of the law.
“Government appeals to all law enforcement agencies to assist in the implementation of this directive with immediate effect.”
It is one thing to post orders of the government in terms of regulations to pay taxes and collect such levies by an agency of the government such as the one in this pronouncement in Edo State of Nigeria. But what is critically blurring and hurting is the process of educating the public of their rights to avoid being mistreated and exploited.
At what centres are drivers and okada riders can be provided proper education about their rights and what to do when being manhandled by the police and collectors of government levies?
In Canada, for example, state or by-law payments and fines are arranged in such a way that no one is distracted from doing his or her daily business. You are not waylaid and bundled to hidden corners and be forced to pay levies and fines. Rather upon detection that one is owing and needs to pay – three things will happen. 1. Police will remind the one of the over due sum from record check and advice you to go and pay up – and that is considered a prompted warning. 2. You can go to the law court and pay up. 3. You can go to any Vehicle Registration Center or office and pay up. In Nigeria one can be directed to go and pay in a bank or local government office and obtain a valid receipt. Failure to pay up in Canada would lead to keeping the debt until the next time of renewal of one’s vehicle registration or motor cycle particulars or trasacting any other business with the registry. In other words, there is no way anyone would escape paying the levies and taxes.
By commissioning agents such as Akughe Ventures at the exclusion of other competitors is to monopolize the transaction of speed collection of levies. It is undemocratic to commission one Venture in the state to do the collection of levies for the state. Competition sharpens efficiency and reduces the risk of fraud and cover ups. Competition will check balance interested collectors based of productivity, good customer service relationships and accountability to be shown for renewal of contract to collect for another period for the state.
More importantly, drivers and riders rights and responsibilities must paid attention to through empowered opportunities to learn and apply their rights.