Nobody will be exempted from paying tax, Kisumu county government has said as the standoff with boda boda riders escalated.
The county government, which is embroiled in a dispute with the riders over a Ksh20 daily levy or Ksh500 monthly, stood firm on the implementation of the County Finance Act.
The boda boda riders, who have not been paying taxes since the inception of devolution, are required to get stickers to enable them to operate. Attempts to have them pay the levy last year was flatly rejected.
Finance executive Nerry Achar on Thursday said tax must be paid and riders should emulate vegetable vendors.
“Tax is not negotiable and those who fail to pay will face the full force of the law,” he said.
“We can discuss other issues such as parking, shades and general welfare of the business community, but not a tax which is in the law,” he warned.
For the past five years, Kisumu has been struggling to meet its Ksh1 billion revenue target.
Achar said the levy took effect on June 1 and defaulters will be penalised. This is part of efforts to boost revenue collection.
“We will not hesitate to take action against the defaulters. Even our mothers selling vegetables are paying tax,” he said.
Kisumu has more than 35,000 boda boda riders who said they they are not ready to pay because they did not give their input.
But Achar said public participation was done, noting that the money will help the county to build boda boda sheds and improve roads.
On Wednesday, the riders engaged county askaris and police in running battles as they protested the taxation.
One person was injured after being hit by a county vehicle during the melee on the Oginga Odinga Street.
The driver was trying to speed off from the irate riders who were smashing the windows of the vehicle. Some of the askaris were injured.
Police to lobbed teargas to disperse the rowdy crowd.
Earlier, the operators stormed the county’s yard and took away motorbikes which had been impounded.
Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o said his administration will not relent on the implementation of the Finance Act. “We are enforcing the law to ensure everybody pays tax,” Ager said.
The governor’s press unit director Aloice Ager said better service delivery will be realised through adequate revenue generation. He said the riders were engaged before the implementation of the taxation.
“The engagement started in the last regime. Not a single business community will be exempted from paying tax,” Ager said.
Some 113 operators have complied as their colleagues camped at the county offices to buy their stickers.
The county said it will deal with saccos to collect the boda boda levies weekly or monthly.
Achar told the riders to join saccos to ease the work. Those who will not comply will be expected to make a daily remittance.
The majority of the riders are, however, not ready to comply. County Boda Boda Riders’ Association leader Jacob Ochieng said there was no public participation.
He said they are not ready to pay. They want a clear explanation of how the money will be used if they have to part with their cash.
“Public participation must be done before imposing the new taxation law,” Ochieng said. (source/ The Star)