Lagos transporters

Since Wednesday, March 3, 2021, the sufferings of motorists and commuters of the decrepit Lagos-Badagry Expressway have quadrupled. Commercial drivers on that road have withdrawn their services several times in protest against extortion by union officials.

Thousands of poor commuters on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway have been stranded, while many have resorted to taking commercial motorbikes on long distances at very exorbitant prices and risks to their lives.

Unfortunately, the blame is put at the feet of the Lagos State Government,LASG, which imposed N800 levy on commercial vehicles on the road as well as touts and hoodlums operating under the banner of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, to collect the levy.

The LASG, through Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s aide on Transportation, Toyin Fayinka, confirmed it is behind the N800 ticket, saying it is a new tax the drivers have to pay, and that at the end of the year, the Lagos Internal Revenue Service, LIRS, will issue certificates of tax clearance to the drivers. We think this tax is unfair and comes at the wrong time.

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First, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, especially from Agbara to Badagry, is in a sorry state. We have, through several editorials and features stories, drawn government’s attention to the terrible condition of that road. The drivers and commercial vehicle owners who still put their vehicles on that bad road ought to be encouraged, rather than being subjected to further hardship through over-taxation.

Secondly, this new tax should not be coming from government or anyone in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when governments across the world, private organisations and individuals are making efforts to cushion its impact on the poor and small-scale businesses.

If the LASG cannot help these poor people, they should not compound their sufferings with extortionate taxation. Already, these operators are overburdened by many other daily extortions at every bus-stop by touts and hoodlums operating under the umbrella of NURTW and RTEAN. They often inflict bodily injury on them or damage to their vehicles.

Third, N800 tax daily levy translates to N24, 000 per month. Under the PAYEE structure, a worker has to be earning about N230, 000 per month to be required to pay N24, 000 tax.   Why does the LASG prefer to use the NURTW and RTEAN to collect the tax, instead of directing the drivers to pay at the Lagos Internal Revenue Service, LIRS?

We call on the LASG to rethink this levy and save these commercial transporters from the cruel hands of the NURTW, RTEAN, Police and all manners of uniformed people who have become bloodsuckers on transporters. Above all, the road should be made motorable to justify any additional taxation.

Vanguard News Nigeria

 

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