By Gabriel Enogholase
BENINâ€”The wife of a journalist in one of the national newspapers in Edo State yesterday led other women involved in the distribution of satchet water to protest against the Committee on Street Trading and Beautification set up by Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
The protesters, mainly women, said they were no longer comfortable with the state governmentâ€™s task force on street trading and beautification, insisting that they had lost several millions of naira to the activities of the task force, which forcefully destroyed their property in the cause of its business.
The journalistâ€™s wife, who refused to disclose her name, said she decided to lead the protesters because of the negative implications the activities of the task force had on their business as well as the upkeep of their respective homes.
She disclosed that as one of the major distributors of satchet and bottled water at Oba market in Benin metroplis, she had no option than to lead them to the seat of government in the state to express their displeasure over the inhuman and poor attitude of the task force against them.
One of the protesting women, Augustina Osaghale, who, however, spoke with newsmen, said though they were aware that street trading had been banned in the state, their case was a different one as only hawkers who had no specific place to display their wares were affected by the ban.
She endorsed the protest to Government House, saying that during campaign, the state governor promised to abolish ticketing in the state, adding that it was disgusting that after the election, the government imposed a monthly tax ofÂ N5,000 on them.
â€œWe decided to stage a protest match to Government House this morning because as at the time we voted for governor Oshiomhole, he did not tell us that they were going to be extorting money from us. He told us that if we voted for him and emerged winner he would abolish ticking.
They have destroyed our stores and that of our husbands. We are appealing to concern authorities to allow us to do our business peacefullyâ€.
â€œIf they are alleging that the pure water business has compounded the problems of refuse heaps across the state, the government should provide us with dustbins at designated places for refuse disposal as it is being done in other parts of the state.
Alternatively, if the state government wants to put us out of business they should provide alternative jobs for us. Presently, the state government collects N6,000 as tax from shop owners at Oba market monthly which we have since complained againstâ€, she said.
The protesting women who however commended the state government for its urban renewal projects of the state especially in Benin metropolis noted that beautifications alone cannot provide them with any source of livelihood.
They however called on the state government to call the task force to order in order to avert the historical Aba women riot of 1929.