Traders in Awka, the Anambra state capital have kicked against alleged imposition of fumigation levies on shop owners by a group claiming to be acting for Awka South Local Government Area (LGA) as an agent.
The group, Aguka Agu Global Resources & Services LTD have been allegedly distributing papers entitled “fumigation against coronavirus, reptiles, deadly insects, etc. Demand notice,” which among other things ordered lockup shop owners to pay between N20,000 and above into a bank details belonging to Awka South Local Government Area.
The fumigation, it was learnt was to help the Council Area contain spread of coronavirus, since official report from the state government shows they have a highest recorded cases.
A computer operator, Miss Amaka Ikem, whose business centre was allegedly taxed N20,000 to that effect, said they were given within a week to make the payment or face the wrath of law.
Ikem decried that the fee was exorbitant given the current economic downturn which according to her has made it impossible for them to receive much patrons unlike it used to be prior to COVID-19.
Another shop owner, Chief Samson Okite, who claimed that himself and other shops within a building in arroma junction were charged N70,000, wondered the kind of fumigation the government was planning to launch in the local government area.
“We did not receive palliatives from the government. They did not also think of reaching us with PPE and other equipment useful in conrtaining COVID-19. Now they have initiated a move to exploit us. We won’t pay that,” Okite added.
Others said they would follow any legal means to protect themselves, shops and workers from the payment come what may.
However, when contacted, the Permanent Secretary, Anambra state Ministry of Environment, Dr Emmanuel Okafor, said neither his ministry nor the state government was aware of the fumigation and adviced people not to pay.
Also speaking, the Transition Committee Chairman, Awka South LGA, Hon. Leo Nwuba, said the agent acted in error, as it was initially agreed to fumigate public places like hotels, night clubs, and others excluding shops.
“The entire exercise has been suspended. No one should pay to anyone. It was initially meant to contain the spread of coronavirus in our council area. Hope you are aware that Awka South has highest number of cases in Anambra state. But the agent acted in error. I will put head together with my team to come out with a better strategy. All we are doing is to contain the spread of the virus in line with governor Willie Obiano’s directives,” he added.