By Ifeanyi Okonkwo
The Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ONICCIMA) has lost over three billion naira to illegal revenue collectors within Onitsha and its environs in three years.
ONICCIMA President, Mr. Chris Ukachukwu, said this at a news conference in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State.
Ukachukwu said that another N100 million was indirectly lost through the activities of the miscreants.
Ukachukwu lamented that the activities of the illegal toll collectors had contributed to the diminishing business fortunes of Onitsha business community.
“The despicable activities of these illegal revenue collectors include incessant harassment of traders, damage to property and extortion, particularly on the Bridge Head and Upper Iweka areas.
“Their operation is a disservice to Anambra State Government’s bid to build investors’ confidence and attract foreign and local investments.
“The consequences are already noticeable as most customers now prefer diverting their businesses to neighbouring states. The obvious implication is the loss of revenue both for the people and the state.
“It is estimated that businesses worth over N3 billion have been lost directly and another N100 million indirectly through the activities of these hoodlums in the last three years,” he said.
Ukachukwu alleged that the illegal revenue collectors operated with impunity and paraded themselves as representatives of government in the full glare of security operatives.
According to him, the illegality has continued unabated in spite of the state government’s pronouncement banning such activities
He, however, urged the state government to take strong measures in clamping down on those providing support for the nefarious activities of the illegal revenue collectors.
“We urge the government anti-touting squad under the supervision of the Commissioner for Trade and Commerce to sustain the fight head-on without fear or favour.
“ONICCIMA is confident that with sustained and committed efforts, the government can rid all manner of illegality on our roads and markets and it will go a long way in turning around the economic fortunes of the state,” he said.