Traders strike paralyses Iganga, leave taxi operators idle

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Traders strike paralyses Iganga, leave taxi operators idle
Traders are not about to concede to the government this time

IGANGA | Traders in the eastern commercial district of Iganga joined their colleagues the rest of the country in a lockdown protest over the decision as new tax regimes takes the flak.

The traders closed down their shops today, paralysing business in Iganga, a busy trade centre for Busoga sub-region.

Traders countrywide are venting frustration with what they perceive as the government's neglect of their concerns regarding the introduction of the Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing System (EFRIS).

EFRIS is an initiative introduced by Uganda Revenue Authority under its domestic revenue mobilisation programme to address the tax administration challenges relating to business transactions and issuance of receipts.

One of the traders, Saidi Mukova, who operates along Saza Road in Iganga Municipality, said they decided to join other traders in other parts of the country since the new tax has not been sensitized about its benefits and disadvantages.

“Under this system one needs to have the system known as EFRIS in order to pay taxes to revenue yet most of us traders are low income earners,” he said.

Mukova said URA would have first taken the initiative to sensitise traders about the way in which the system operates before imposing it instead of importing it from another country.

“Not everyone is happy with this new tax because its hurting us,” he added.

Consumers who had moved from other parts of Busoga sub-region to buy goods were shocked to discover that all shops in the busy business centre had not opened at all.

Traders said under this new EFRIS system, buyers are entitled to receive a receipt for purchase of goods worth Shs450,000 and above and failure to do so attracts a fine of Shs5 million.

“In case one is found with goods without a receipt a trader is charged shillings 50 million which is too high,” Mukova said.

As part of their protest, the traders vented on the streets around the market, holding placards on which they sent their message to whoever it might concern.

They urged President Museveni to intervene in the matter to save them from the abnormal taxes.

Iganga being in the centre of Busoga sub-region attracts a big number of traders from neighbouring districts who flock the area seeking to buy goods during early morning hours.

Heavily armed police were deployed on all major streets within Iganga Municipality and its surrounding areas to quell any violence that would occur as a result of the strike.

The strike by traders also affected taxi operators since most taxis were left abandoned without passengers.

According to the chairman of Iganga Taxi Operators and Driver’s Association, Mr Abdallah Waibi,  some of the operators were forced to return back to their respective homes as a result of lack of passengers.

Waibi said most of the taxis transport traders who move from other districts to buy goods but as a result of the strike no passengers turned up.

Some traders were seen trying to block traders who tried to open their premises.

The Spokesperson for Busoga East Police, Ms Diana Nandawula, said police was deployed along the streets of Iganga to quell any violence that was likely to occur as a result of the strike.

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