Letters to the editor
Rivers State: Traders and Multiple Ticketing Agents at Oil Mill Market
Rivers State: Traders and multiple ticketing agents at Oil Mill market
By Nwaorgu Faustinus, Port Harcourt
In the recent past, I wrote an article with the caption “Nigeria: Rivers State – the Bill on Illegal Development Levy" published by some online media sites and a few national dailies where I commented on the collection of all sorts of levies from land developers, borehole drilling companies among others.
A lady attends to a buyer at the Oil Mill market, Port harcourt in south-south Nigeria's Rivers State
In that opinion piece I noted that “It is no longer uncommon to see building projects such as the laying of foundation, erection of fence, sinking of borehole and molding of blocks at site of a building stopped by agents who claim to be taskforce for the collection of development fees. Work at such sites can commence only when the agents are settled”.
In the same article I also drew the attention of the appropriate authority charged with the responsibility of overseeing the activities of Ticketing Agents at the market where I wrote “It is also important to draw the attention of the state and the local governments that oversee the collection of revenue from traders at the Oil Mill Market on Wednesdays, on the activities of agents that impose multiple levies on petty traders at the market. The manner the agents go about the collection of levy leaves one to wonder if the money collected eventually gets to the appropriate authority”.
Respite later came when the bill prohibiting of the collection of development levy was passed into law by the Rivers State House of Assembly. While one thought that the passage of the bill into law would put a total stop to the collection of the said levy, a few of these agents who have not turned over a new leaf as alleged by some residents in Elelenwo/Akpajo have continued to look out for people developing their land, borehole drilling companies, drilling boreholes in residential homes, laborers digging the foundation of building sites etc, with the aim of pressuring them to pay the obnoxious “Marching Ground”.
In addition, the second and most important issue raised in this piece which is the selling of multiple tickets to traders who sell their wares at the Oil Mill Market every Wednesday has become a serious matter given the alleged indiscriminate method the ticketing agents or touts go about their duties.
Most times petty traders who cannot bear the multiple tickets as it allegedly left them with little or no profit, get embroiled with the ticketing agents who oftentimes confiscate their wares and at the extreme inflict indelible injury on recalcitrant ones who do not want to let go of their wares.
Is it when these agents kill someone or give those concerned to checkmate this multiple ticketing a bad name, (if they have not gotten the bad name already) that something urgent and immediate should be done about them (ticketing agents)? According to a petty trader at the market who does not want to be identified, the multiple ticketing has led to some traders who come from Aba, in Abia State, to stop coming to the market to sell their wares while others in Rivers State have followed suit by constructing kiosks and tables where they display and sell their merchandise either in front of their homes, their landlady or landlord’s homes or any other place where they are not harassed or assaulted by these agents.
Needless to say a major share of revenue which ought to accrue to the state government is lost as a result of the, so to say, corrupt and greed-propelled multiple ticketing orchestrated by ticketing agents. It is not late for the Rivers State government to harmonize these different tickets into one or two to save the traders the assaults and harassment they go through in the hands of ticketing agents. It is therefore incumbent on the state government and the appropriate local government to monitor these agents and to put suitable mechanism in place; judicious levy collection devoid of any underhand dealings, proper accounting of money collected etc.
It is believed if the above is done, the unnecessary multiple ticketing that characterize the collection of levy at the market as part of the state government/local government internally generated revenue would be checked and sanity will not only return to Oil Mill Market but also traders who have been scared away from the market will come back. God bless Rivers State.