Members of the Tipper Drivers Unit of the National Union of Road Transport Workers Bayelsa Chapter, MURTW have decried what they termed illegal levies forced on them by agents of government and the Ijaw Youth Congress, IYC.
Speaking to our correspondent at the Oxbow Lake union’s office, the Chairman, Comrade David Ekwekere alongside other top officials including Comrade Tobi Diseye, the Treasurer lamented the incessant harrassment and extortion by the IYC and taskforce of the Ministry of Environment.
Ekwekere noted that as much as they believe it’s constitutional to ask business concerns to pay levies and taxes to support and assist government’s development policies and programs this they insisted should be done legitimately.
He frowned at the recent attack on their members by IYC Atissa Clan for a levy that has no meaning and commended the Chairman Bayelsa Board of Internal Revenue whose presence at the scene of the incident helped to calm the youths.
But when contacted on telephone, the National Spokesman of the IYC, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe on the legitimacy of the levies being demanded by the IYC said the clan chairman is in charge of the area and has the capacity to manage crisis within his jurisdiction.
It will be recalled that the NURTW- Tipper Drivers unit had a running battle with members of the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment Taskforce over the payment of Efflunce Discharge Fee.
According to the chairman, the ministry of environment officials came breathing on their neck asking them to pay Efflunce Discharge Fee which they resisted, saying that they don’t discharge any form of Efflunce insisting that though their operations is within the territory of Bayelsa State it is in Exclusive List of the federal government.
Explaining further, Ekwekere said they have never failed to remit their levies to the appropriate agency of the federal government which is the federal ministry of mines and steel, pointing out that due to the persistent pressure on them to pay the Efflunce Discharge Fee they have to order their members to shut down operations as a means to air their greviances.
Ekwekere while thanking the commissioner of Environment for amicably resolving the disptute among NURTW, the revenue task force and the ministry, however said the union will not be cowed into paying double taxation.
The Tipper Drivers Chairman also used the opportunity to extend their appreciation to their numerous customers for the continuous patronage inspite of the recent increase in their services, promised to render standard and quality services as always despite the harsh economic situation faced by members of the union.
Ekwekere expressed the union’s readiness to partner with Government to contribute its quota to the Prosperity agenda, added that they will not be part of any faceless groups or individuals who are bent on demarketing the present administration by imposing double taxation.
He urged members to resist the temptation of taking the law into their hands but rather be law abiding at all times, insisting that they will not be intimidated in any form.