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One Million May Become Jobless, Lagos Bakers Protest Hostile Conditions Of Doing Business

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Bread bakers in Lagos have protested crippling challenges of doing business in the state and appealed to the state government to save their business and the jobs of no fewer than one million people whose livelihoods are threatened by what they described as “unbearable intimidation, and harassment by state agencies.’’

Protesting on the banner of Premium Bread Makers Association of Nigeria, PBAN, they pleaded with the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, to stop the incidence of multiple levies from by many agencies and harassment by the police.

Challenges crippling bread business

In a letter to Speaker Obasa by Mr. Emmanuel Onuorah, president; and Emmanuel Onyoh, general secretary, the PBAN said the issues threatening the survival of bread industry in the state include: Multiple oversight/monitoring of our businesses by numerous state ministries, agencies and parastatals; Intimidation and harassment of drivers of our delivery vans by agencies such as VIO, LASTMA; Most of the monitoring done by the state agencies are equally carried out by National Agency for Food & Drug Administration (NAFDAC), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, etc.

According to them, State ministries, agencies and parastatals claiming that they are authorized by law to monitor/oversee premium bakeries include: Lagos State Ministry of Environment; Lagos State Safety Commission; Ministry of Transport (State Carriage); Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA); Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA); Lagos State Fire Service; Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LIRS); Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA); 57 local governments and LCDAs in Lagos; Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA); and levies include yearly papers by LGAs/LCDAs; Daily Ticket toll ( LGAs/LCDAs); and Mid-year Papers (LGAS/LCDAs.

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They also complained of police harassment of their drivers, who detain their delivery vans not minding that they are distributing essential and perishable goods.

Effects on business

They lamented that the effects of the above have made business operational capacity to drop to below 50 per cent; challenged staff retention and employment of more staff with the attendant drop in PAYE collectible by the state government; and ‘’the likely loss of job/business by over 500,000 bread distributors is imminent and this will further affect a lot of living conditions of their families.’’

Calling for a special protection for the Premium breadmaking industry as a major employer of labour, they appealed to the Speaker “to use your good office to save our businesses from collapse and prevent over one million people in Lagos state under our employment (inclusive of bread distributors) from becoming jobless and being pushed back into already saturated unemployment market.’’

Among others, they appealed to the state government to use of one consolidated body to oversee the monitoring of bread business instead multiple agencies; direct the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, to stop the harassment, intimidation and indiscriminate impoundments of the delivery vehicle of their members by the police; and make Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) World Bank grant and loans available to Premium Breadmakers that applied for it as net employers of labour in Lagos.

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Hammed Tajudeen is the editor in-chief of Blaze News, holds Higher National Diploma(HND) in Mass Communication, graduated from Osun State Polytechnic, Iree.

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