Water vendors popularly called Meruwa in the state capital, Yenagoa, have downed tools to protest multiple taxation from Bayelsa Environmental Sanitation Authority.
It was gathered that the water vendors, dominant suppliers of water have commenced a five day warning strike in the state capital Yenagoa, resulting to acute water scarcity, a move calculated to highlight the value of their services following failure of government to provide affordable portable water.
Residents depend entirely on the water vendors for water supply as the state capital lacks public portable water supply system.
It was gathered that in desperate attempt to boost internally generated revenue by government, the water vendors were compelled to pay monthly fees of N3,000, in addition to N100 daily tolls they hitherto pay to operate.
The water vendors who kicked against the N3,000 monthly levy said that the government was insensitive to the plight of residents who spend between N350 and N500 daily on water for domestic cores and additional N150 per bag of sachet water.
Mr. Festus Ebitimi, a resident who expressed sadness over the development said, the situation is very deplorable and an additional burden to the residents in Yenagoa who do not have tap water or alternative.
He said that it was absurd for the government whose primary responsibility it is to provide water to abdicate the responsibility and to impose exorbitant tax on water vendors who are in business because government failed to provide public water supply in the name of enhanced revenue at the expense of the people.
He urged the state government to look into the matter as water is an indispensable necessity without alternative, adding that the present cost of water at N20 was already a big financial burden to families.
Mrs Queen Abide, a road side food seller, pleaded the with the Sanitation Authority to have a rethink on the levy in the interest of the poor masses, following the economic hardship.
She implored the state government to look into the matter and handle it with carefulness for the general interest of the people that do not have private boreholes in their compounds.
Abide, advice them to take a peaceful protest to the state chairman of the authority’s office to lay their grievance and plead for reduction of the tax rather that withdraw their services.
One of the water vendors, Mr. Abdulahi Musa said that they have decided to withdraw services and abstain from selling water to the public, adding that anyone who breaches the pact will have his cart of water confiscated.
He appealed to the Sanitation Authority to reduce the tax so that they can have income to provide for their families as increasing the cost of water to residents would become unbearable as most households are indebted to them.
Musa said, if they insist on the tax, they will be left with no choice than to increase the cost of water from N20 to N30 per 20 litres.
He noted that already most households who depend on them for water daily, cannot cope with the present cost and were owing them for water earlier supplied to them.
“The economic meltdown is taking a lot of toll on us because civil servants are owed salaries by government running into five or six months; can no longer pay for water supply and they need water everyday, we keep supplying on credit.
“Recently some were paid half salaries and we are being affected as the limited income of our customers is an obstacle to our business,” Musa said.
Another water seller, Ahmed Abubakar said he will have to leave the water business if they do not reduce the tax, saying that the inablility of some residents to pay for water supply had affected the welfare of his family.
He said that the cash crunch had made water business unprofitable as past administrations have not subjected them to multiple taxation.

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