By Rotimi Ojomoyela
Ado Ekiti—Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has placed a ban on sand excavation in state, following tipper owners’ failure to comply with the new tax regime.
The tipper owners were also accused of destroying farmlands, unruly behaviour, environmental degradation and sundry offences.
Commissioner for Environment, Otunba Kolawole, said the ban took effect from yesterday.
Trouble started when tipper owners defied the government’s directive which imposed a levy of N1,000 per trip on the operators.
The operators, under the auspices of the Union of Tipper and Quarry Employers of Nigeria, described the new tax regime as unacceptable, vowing that their members would not honour the arrangement.
Fayose, while commenting on the ban said: “They have to obey the law of the land. How can anyone be operating here in Ekiti and refuse to pay tax?
“We cannot run government without money. Apart from tax default, some of their trucks have no particulars, no headlamps and no brakes. They are also destroying our farmlands and vegetation. We won’t tolerate all these.
“We all owe it a duty to pay our taxes as demanded by the law and this we will implement.”
The Commissioner, in the directive issued, said the move became expedient “in view of the recurrent cases of destruction of valuable crops by tipper owners while excavating sand.”
Kolawole bemoaned how farmlands were being wantonly destroyed by operators of the business without minding the hazard their actions constitute to the environment.
The Commissioner disclosed that the Ministry had received series of complaints from farm owners, claiming that tipper operators had consistently been wreaking havoc on their crops without paying compensation or offer any palliative.
When called to confirm whether members had complied with the directive, the Chairman, Tipper Owners Association in Ekiti State, Chief James Mokoa, said the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Etop James, is mediating in the matter.
Mokoa, who kept mum on whether his members had complied with the directive, expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved amicably in another round of peace parley at the instance of the police boss.