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Market leaders extort traders in lockdown

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… Nkpor New Parts, Eke Awka affected

LEADERS of some market unions are exploiting the on-going COVID-19 lockdown to exploit traders in Anambra State.

  Some of the markets monitored are New Auto Spare Parts Market in Nkpor and International Building Market in Ogidi both in  Idemmili North Local Government Area as well as Eke Awka Market in Awka, Awka South  Local Government Area of Anambra State.

  Investigation by National Light revealed that as much as N5,000 is paid by shop owners who intend to open their shops for business at New Auto Spare Parts Market in Nkpor while the same thing attracts N3000 for their counterparts in Ogidi International Building Market.

  The situation is not different at Eke Awka Market where traders also cough out as high as N5,000 before they can open for business since the lockdown order commenced.

  A trader who did not want to be named at Eke Awka bemoaned their plight and its auguries in the present harsh economic time, and called on Gov. Willie Obiano to bring leaders of the market union to book.

  “If you pay N5,000, they will let you open your shop. If you do not pay, you will not be allowed to open. Another option is to pay N2,000 and you will be allowed to open your shop and take some goods, which you can sample along the road and hustle for customers.

Even though only food item sellers are authorised by the government to open, the market, leaders let anyone who wants to open shop to do so, no matter what they sell, as far as they can pay the levy,” he said.

  He said that while the state was observing only stay-at-home, security operatives in the market made brisk business by collecting money from shop owners to let them into or out of the market and attend to a customer. But when the union leaders saw how lucrative the ‘business’ went on, they ‘legalised’ it by making it open since lockdown commenced on Monday.

  Attempts to get the market leaders’ comment were futile as they said they cannot talk unless they are cleared to do so by the president of the market union.

  But payment of this sort of levies contravenes the order of the state government as contained in the state-wide broadcast that announced the lockdown order which exempted traders dealing in food items.

  Other traders who were spoke on the issue called on Gov. Obiano to look into the matter as to further cement their bond with government in implementation of zero touting policy in Anambra markets.

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