By Nsikak Ekpenyong
Disturbed over series of complaints received due to extortion and multiple vehicular taxes imposed by agents alleged to be working with Local Governments Areas on Federal Highways, the Ministry of Transportation, has announced readiness to partner Joint Mobile Sanitation Agency of Nigeria (JOMSAN), in a bid to sanitise the system.
The Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, gave the assurance when the leadership of JOMSAN paid a courtesy visit to the ministry.
Saraki who was represented by the Director, Road Transport and Mass Transit Administration, Mrs Esther Ehigie, said the issue of extortion and double taxation on vehicles has raised serious concerns for the ministry.
While noting that there’s need for regulations, she disclosed that the ministry is currently working on a transformation program that will help address issues of multiple taxation especially on vehicles transporting food products on federal highways.
“The issues are not new, the ministry has been bombarded many times with complaints. Around November, some people who are victims of extortion came here to complain. It’s something the ministry is looking into.
“I want to let us know that the ministry is really working on it. Similar proposals have been coming in on how to curb the extortion on Federal Highways.
“There’s need for regulations. The minister is very concerned about this and other issues.
“The minister is coming up with a transformation program because the road subsector, as you know is very important because it carries over 90 per cent of our movements.
“Currently, work is ongoing on different aspect to come out with a road transportation program which will look into all these issues you have raised.” Saraki said
She however, appealed to all the stakeholders in the sector to partner in the fight to ensure that motorists conveying food products across the country do that without fear of extortion and multiple taxation.
“We need to work together to get the country to where it is supposed to be. Part of the treaties that we as a country have signed includes the free movement of goods and services and we must ensure that it works. All hands must be on deck to make sure it works.” Saraki said
Earlier, JOMSAN President, Dr. Nnamdi Ogbogbo, said the visit was to seek the ministry’s partnership and support in the fight against multiple taxation and the unlawful blocking of federal highways by faceless persons in the guise of collecting government revenue.
He explained that the cardinal objective of JOMSAN, is to bring back sanity to federal roads and enhance the food supply chain and to ensure the ease of doing business in our country.
“Joint Mobile Sanitation Agency is calling on your ministry, to join us in this war against multiple taxation. The practice of stopping vehicles on the road in order to sell unapproved and fake clearance certificates and levies must henceforth be a thing of the past. The use of unauthorized associations to certify Local Government and State permits must also come to an end.
“We are further calling on you, to assist us in this battle with the necessary logistics and funding in order to effectively carry out the directive of the National Assembly and ALGON/NULGE to, once and for all, eradicate multiple taxation and stop all illegal road blocks and bring uniformity among all 774 Local Government and State revenue contractors in the revenue collecting agencies.”
He expressed optimism that, with the minister’s support, the fight to ensure food security in the country, will be a successful one.
JOMSAN is the only body engaged by Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) as Consultant/Coordinators, to help eradicate touting and multiplicity of vehicular taxes and levies imposed by Local Governments.
It could be recalled that last week, the JOMSAN Taskforce team through the support of Nigeria Police, were able to arrest the leader of an alleged illegal revenue collection team by name; Mr. Mike Eboziegbe, alius Otumba, based in the south-west, particularly Lagos and Ibadan axis.