New taxes introduced by the Machakos County government late last year continue to generate controversy.
On Monday, more than 400 angry motorcycle operators blocked the busy Mombasa road near the Devki Steel Mills plants to protest the new taxes.
George Omondi who operates in the Mlolongo area said his colleagues opted to abandon work and voice their displeasure at the new charges.
This year each cyclist is expected to pay a Sh1,200 fee annually to be able to operate.
“On top of this every cyclist is expected to pay Sh400 per month up from Sh300 we were paying last year. Our concern is the double fee that the county government is taxing us,” complained Mr Omondi.
The demonstrators complained that penalties being imposed on them for failing to comply with the new demands was punitive.
“Defaulters are rounded up and forced to pay a fine of Sh5,000,” they complained.
Last year the controversial Machakos Finance Act 2013 led to widespread protests with the local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry organising demonstrations across the county against the move.
LOOKED INTO AFRESH
In the wake of the protests, County Assembly speaker Benard Mungata told the Nation the contentious issues in the Finance Act could be looked into afresh by the Assembly.
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua assented to the Act on October 16th and it came into effect on October 29th.
Members of the Machakos business community led by the Simon Kitheka of the County Chamber of Commerce cried foul and asked for the withdrawal of the Act which he said contained sections that did not encourage business growth.
The Act requires among other things that a penalty of Sh10,000 be meted out to persons found disposing waste in non-designated areas; Sh10,000 for miraa transport through the county per trip and the same for air pollution, noise pollution and a Sh5,000 fine for failure to clear and clean 10 meters of shop frontage.
The Act which was published in the Daily Nation of November 5, 2013 also requires traders to install CCTV cameras in their trading premises and that no trading licensee will be issued for premises without CCTV from the effective date of the Act.
It also demands that all business premises owners be responsible for clearing and cleaning 10 meters around their premises.
Any person owning a sand yard or controlling an area with sand deposits and is involved in the harvesting and selling of such sand other than a transporter shall according to the Finance Act be charged Sh5,000 per annum and a permit of Sh10,000 per month, Sh50,000 per six months and Sh80,000 per year.
Obstruction by commercial vehicles per day in Mlolongo and Makutano Chumbi is pegged at Sh25,000 plus towing charges while the parking fee for commercial vehicles per day in Mlolongo and Makatano Kyumbi is Sh500.
Other penalties include urinating in undesignated areas (Sh500); littering (Sh250), dumping (Sh100); air pollution (Sh10,000) and littering with cigarette butts (Sh200) among others.
Mr Kitheka said the County Assembly which passed the Act did not put into consideration the plight of the common traders many whom he said would be forced out of business if the Act was to be enforced as it is.
Source: Daily Nation