County faces revenue crisis as tax boycott bites

Shaban Abdul a fish trader displays fresh fish at his Kisii Municipal Market stall on 21/1/2018.Abdul who sources fish from Miuru Bay in Migori County says there is high competition from imported fish from China which is cheaper in the local market pushing down their sales.[Photo: Sammy Omingo/Standard]

A tax boycott that began three months ago continued to spread this week, threatening to cripple key operations in the county.

The boycott is likely to affect the county's plan to collect Sh275 million in revenue this year.

On Tuesday, traders at Wagusu market in Bondo sub-county joined the boycott, protesting at poor sanitation and infrastructure.

The traders accused the county government of collecting revenue from traders and stone quarries, but there was little to show for it.

“We have more than 50 stone crushers in this area and each pays Sh5,000 a month to the county. It is shameful that it is even difficult for the revenue officers to get access to the quarries because of poor roads,” said Jackton Awiti, a businessman. 

Mr Awiti accused the county of ignoring numerous pleas to improve conditions at Wagusu market.

Janet Ayoo, a trader at the market, complained about poor hygiene, accusing the county government of failing to collect garbage and clean up the market.

“We have appealed for sheds in the market without success,” she said.

The boycott began at Nyamonye market three months ago. Traders refused to pay taxes, citing lack of toilets. The traders received support from the area ward rep, Francis Otiato.

“The county government is collecting a lot of revenue from this market and giving nothing back,” said Mr Otiato.

The boycott spread to Akala market in South Gem ward, one of the major markets in the county and was supported by the area ward rep, David Audi.

“Why should the traders pay taxes yet they work in dirty markets?” asked Mr Audi.

The county director of revenue, Charles Ocholla, could not be reached for comment.

However, the county director of communications, Jerry Sando, defended the administration, saying market sheds had been constructed and a programme to clean up the facilities launched.