By Mercy Hill
The Anambra State Traders Welfare Association has declared a resolve to ensure any secure means to guarantee its union's welfare as well as ensure the economic improvement of its members.
The chairman, ASTWAN, Hon. Anthony Ebogha, disclosed this on Tuesday 6th February 2019, during a meeting of the association at Cana House, Awka while explaining to newsmen what transpired after the November, 2018 protest by members of the association against multiple levies against them.
The meeting which had in attendance over hundreds of street traders from all nooks and crannies of the state under the aegis of ASTWAN, accommodated several deliberations by members on burning issues that concerned the welfare of registered members, as well as proffering visible solutions to the continued problem of multiple and crippling levies allegedly imposed on street traders.
Hon. Ebogha said that the association was formed with the aim of bringing street traders together under a unified umbrella to gain government's recognition and also to cater for the welfare of members. He said this while giving an insight into what propelled the protest last year.
He observed that some individuals disguised themselves as revenue agents under the Anambra State Government, extorting traders of their earnings.
The ASTWAN chairman added that traders were ready to pay taxes such as that of business premises, ASWAMA and Liquor respectively, but regretted that others, such as taxes on kiosk/shops, fire extinguishers, among many others, should be stopped.
He furthermore pleaded with the state government to apprehend those perpetrating what he described as fraudulent acts, and also try in their efforts to see to the welfare of these traders through the provision of small-scale loans and reduction of revenue windows to affordable ranges.
Lending the chairman's voice, a member and treasurer of the association, Evangelist Okoye Emmanuel, complained that the multiple levies on traders had crippled many street businesses, even as he noted that non-members of the association paid lesser dues compared to members of the union. He called on the state government to give ears to the cries of the traders by assisting them so as to encourage them.
Speaking on behalf of the women, the vice chairman of the association, Mrs. Precious Eberechukwu Mbito, lamented also over the incessant harassment of street traders, especially women by the taskforce.
Responding to issues raised, the Director, Small and Medium Enterprises, Anambra State Ministry of Trade and Commerce, Comrade Okwuchukwu Cyprian Obeiefuna, commended the union for their efforts to work under an umbrella. He furthermore assured of the state's readiness to see to the end of their complaints, adding that incentives in the aspects of small-scale business empowerment schemes were already set to aid the welfare of traders.