JOHN MUYIWA, ADO EKITI
Indigenes and residents of Ekiti State have kicked against the hike in prices of sand and gravel being provided by tipper owners/operators in the state. The increment followed an agreement reached during the resolution of the face-off between Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and tipper owners/operators over the new tax regime in the state, where it was agreed that the tipper owners and operators should increase their prices.
The tipper owners, who had vowed not to pay the initial N1,000 per trip levied on them, urged the governor to approve the increment of their charges per trip for them to be able to pay the tax, thus passing the burden onto residents through the increase.
At the peace meeting, it was resolved that the tipper operators would now pay N500 per trip and also mandatorily register their vehicles with the state government. The state government also agreed with them to increase the price of a load of sand from N12,000 to N14,500 and gravel, from N25,000 to N28,000, effective from January 2. But the development is negatively affecting residents, who patronise the services of the tipper operators for their building and construction needs.
According to a civil servant, who preferred anonymity, the increment “is unnecessary” as it amounts to multiple taxation on the part of anyone that pays this new increase. He said, “It does not make any sense that the governor would make an end-user to cough out additional N2,500 per load of sand and N3,000 per load of gravel because he wants to collect N500 tax per load. This is unfair and anti-people.
“People are suffering in the state now. A kilogram of meat has increased from N1,000 to N1,200 because the government now gets taxes from the butchers.”
The governor had, at a truce meeting conveyed by security chiefs, accepted the new price regime and also accepted that operators should pay a sum of N500 per trip with effect from January 2, 2016.
The meeting was at the instance of the founder of the Afe Babalola University, Chief Afe Babalola; Director, State Security Service, Mr Duke Fubara; and the Commissioner of Police, Mr Etop James. At the meeting, Fayose also mandated all tipper owners in the state to register their vehicles and get a new state number, threatening that whoever flouted the directive would pay a sum of N50,000.
He said, “I want us to come to reality that Ekiti State is in dire need of money. N934 million is being deducted from our allocation monthly. But no tipper will operate in Ekiti without proper registration. You need to be aware that any illegal operator will be seriously dealt with,” he declared.
Speaking at the meeting, Fubara warned about the security implications of the standoff, saying there was a need to shift grounds to find a middle course. Babalola, who praised the governor’s magnanimity, told the tipper owners to continue to support the government of the day by paying their taxes, the way he had been doing for the state since inception.