From Desmond Mgboh, Kano

Monday, January 3, 2022, the first working day of the New Year, sneaked into Kano with an early morning strike.

Office workers, traders, students, young and old, who attempted to use the commercial tricycles transport system to convey themselves or their goods to their places of work or business locations were stunned to discover an empty traffic.

Left with no options, they had to trek long distances to their destinations. Others, who could not trek for one reason or the other, begged their way for a lift or simply returned home to wait for a better time to hit the road.

The grim situation on that morning also featured a few dramatic clashes, at different locations of the state capital. The clashes were largely between those appointed by the tricycle association to ensure compliance and those opposed to the strike and wanted to work.

The clashes were immediately brought under control by the police and sister organisations. They promptly deployed their officers to arrest the degenerating situation. The officers also ensured that, as was the case during the previous strike by the tricycle union a few months ago, the protesters did not unleash their anger and frustration on the officers of the Kano State Road Traffic Agency (KAROTA), who had been their long time arch enemies.

State Police Public Relations Officer, Haruna Abdullahi Kiyawa, told Daily Sun that as at Wednesday, they had charged six operators of tricycle to court. He said they were arrested for blocking public roads, attacking people, especially their fellow tricycle riders and for causing breach of public peace, adding that they were arrested with dangerous items such as knives and clubs

He said the unruly situation had been brought under control even as he assured that officers had been posted to strategic locations to ensure that there was no breach of peace.

Managing Director, KAROTA, Baffa Baba Dan’Agundi, confirmed that Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje directed the agency to repair all the tricycles destroyed in the course of the strike, saying that those who were attacked were simply the law abiding elements of the association, who were ready to renew their operation/registration permit.

Consequences of the strike

With a stream of commercial bikes swamping the road networks of Kano State in the last three days to replace the tricycles, the temptation is to assume that all is normal and the economy of the state is enjoying the best of times

However, the reality is that the  strike is biting harder as thousands of passengers, including students of primary and secondary schools are forced to trek long distances to their destinations.

Daily Sun observed that many institutions in the state capital adopted a flexible work schedule that permits workers to report to work outside their normal timeline. Institutions such as Yusuf Maitama Sule University, Kano and Bayero University Kano, shifted some examination papers that fell within the days of the strike to later dates.

Traffic in major markets such as at the Abubakar Rimi (Sabon-Garri) and Yankaba witnessed a sharp decline. The number of buyers and sellers and other users of the markets dropped due to the absence of the tricycle operators to convey goods and services to these destinations. Worst hit were dealers of perishable items such as vegetables, meat and fruits.

A catfish seller, Ibrahim Ahmed, disclosed that they had cut down the quantity of fishes they were bringing to the market to avoid waste as it was obvious that the number of people in the market had reduced due to the strike.

Even filling stations also experienced noticeable drop in clients as the tricycles are one of their major patrons. Investigation equally revealed that the state government recorded losses in revenue earnings due to the dispute. With a loss of N100 plus- daily levy paid by the about 60,000 operators of tricycle transport business in the state, the state government is estimated to be losing about N6million daily to the strike. The tricyclists, who earn a daily income of about N5000, have suffered losses too and are going through a lot of personal sacrifices to sustain the strike.

THE ISSUE AT STAKE

Kano State government has always wanted to be like Lagos State. Like a number of such polices adopted from Lagos State, the registration of tricycles and the renewal of their permits were cloned from the South – west.

Last year, after several disagreements, including a three day strike, the tricylists settled to register their tricycle for N18,000.

Mallam Abubakar Ungogo, who spoke to Daily Sun lamented that at the time of this registration, the state government was simply silent on the issue of renewal and  made it look like the whole registration process was solely designed to help the security system track the different operators and protect the security of the state, when actually, their intention was to generate revenue for themselves.

“Having paid the registration fees, in addition to the payment of a daily sum of N100 to the government, we were shocked to be invited to renew our registration license with another N8000. That is most unfair. Where do they want us to get all these money and still pay the owners of the tricycle that we rented?”

“But the greatest injustice, in my own opinion, is the way and manner they handle us. These KAROTA officers, they treat us like we are at war with them, they abuse our rights, they take our money and treat us badly. We are their cash cows and they milk us the way they like”  he stated.

GOVERNMENT’S REACTION.

Speaking at a press conference, Monday, the Managing Director, Kano Road and Traffic Agency, Baffa Babba Dan ‘Agundi regretted that the striking commercial tri-cycle operators did not want to renew their 2022 operational permit.

“They don’t want to respect the law, they don’t want to pay revenue to government They think the security they are enjoying in the state is for free, all the peace within the state, they thnink is for free” he stated.

“The last time they went to court and the court said they should respect the law and pay. And so they went on strike” he stated.

Dan Agundi insisted that while he has no power to stop them from embarking on strike, he would however not hesitate to arrest any of them, who choose to work with their tricycle without its complete papers.

“ A lot of them want to come out and work. Those who didn’t come out, it is because of fear..it is because they don’t want to come and their tricycles would be destroyed by the lawless ones among them” he stated

He confessed that they have been discussing with the leadership and the executive of the association has disassociated themselves from the on -going strike.

He explained that payment of taxes are recognized by law, insisting that government needs revenue to execute projects and administer the state, even as he pointed out that the cost of the present security that is enjoyed in the state was shouldered by thr revenue collected from taxes.

Dan Agundi revealed that the state government was already working on the introduction of a mass transit transport system, which when introduced, would put an end to the monopoly the tricycle operators enjoy in the state today.

CRITICISMS

Despite the tough talks of the Managing Director of KAROTA, the groaning members of the public have been embittered by the prolonged strike. They have no sweet words for him or the state governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. Daily Sun gathered that the prevalent mood in the state is that the state government should address the issues at stake and restore normalcy to the state”s transportation sector, given the avoidable losses it is inflicting on the economy of the state and the pains it is imposing on the general public.

The opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, has since slammed the state government, cautioning that not attending to the dispute in good time could degenerate to something uglier.

The party, in a press statement signed by its chairman, Shehu Wada Sagagi accused the state government of sabotaging the economy of the state in its poor handling of the crisis, fearing that the commercial tri-cyclists, who are out of work as a result of the strike, account for 80- percent of the routine transport movement within the state.

Adamu Ahmed, a shop owner in the state equally rebuked the state government for overloading the plights of the common man in the state with all manners of revenue generating levies and taxes.

He declared that the number of taxes paid in the state was becoming too much for the poor even as he drew the attention of those imposing these taxes to the fact that the overall economy of the state is not doing well.

Daily Sun reports that there are many taxes and rate charges that are implemented in the state at the moment. While some are implemented by the State Revenue Board, others are introduced by local government areas and their appointed bodies and overnight consultants, a consequence is that there are instances of multiple and poorly regulated  taxation system in the state.

Some of the controversial taxes includes the tenement taxes that are dated several years back even though they are recently conceived,  parking permits, mobile adverts taxes, taxes on restuarants, taxes imposed on hoteliers to pay a cerrain percentage of the number of their  lodgers, charges on transporters at different parks and locations, signboard charges among others.

Investigation by Daily Sun indicates that the situation is worse in the metropolitan local government areas, Fagge, Nassarawa and Ungogo Local  Government Areas in particular, where tax issues have become a booming market for revenue officers and their allies.

A cross section of people who spoke to Daily Sun in the light of the current tricycles operators’ strike  lamented that these taxes are too many and too heavy to bear.

John Amen, a Kano based businessman and resident of Sabon Garri Quarters appealed to the state governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to review the state’s tax policy and ensure they are not unnecessarily duplicated or multiplied by the tax operators and they are not too heavy for the tax payers to bear.

The post Trycylists’ strike raises concern over Kano’s multiple taxes appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

Source: news