spare parts dealers

For traders at the Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association of Nigeria (ASPAMDA) at the old trade fair complex in Ojo, Lagos, the activities of ‘area boys’ is a source of headache as they are daily harassed to part with huge sums of money in form of fees. These street urchins, according to traders who requested anonymity, are in cahoots with disgruntled union members; often demanding various fees which are unknown to members.

Aside the monthly dues which every member subscribes to, traders are made to pay for in-bound goods at the trade fair gates and are issued ‘fake’ receipts. “A container bringing goods is made to pay N8000 before gaining entry. If you argue with them, they delay you and the task force is called to tow your truck after which you are made to pay N10, 000,” says trader who pleaded anonymity.

What is disheartening according to victims is the fact that this is done in the presence and full complicity of the security operatives including the police; who are actively protecting the urchins while also soliciting fees. “Out of the N8,000, N6,000 is said to belong to the Union while Mobile policemen manning two checkpoints within the premises takes N1,000 each,” he says.

Another trader plying his trade within the trade fair complex denounced the practice which, according to him, makes the price of spare parts expensive as they transfer the fees to the buyer of their goods. “Recently, I had to come on time to pay for about 10 containers of goods I brought in so that they won’t be delayed and incur unnecessary expenses,” he says.

Currently, the association is rocked by leadership crisis as it is torn between two factions. Last August, the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division restrained the immediate past President of the association, Chief Anthony Ughagwu from handing over to the newly elected executive headed by Chief Daniel Offorkansi pending the hearing of the Motion on Notice filed by three members of the association; challenging the constitutionality of the election. The court order directed the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr Casmir Ifekwem to administer the complex pending the determination of the substantive suit.

In December 2014, traders had resisted paying fees to the union following the court order which led to about 100 shops being locked. Then, the Youth Leader Chief Olisah Obinze decried the situation stating “we will continue to assist owners of locked shops in breaking the keys so that they can go in and do their business until a court says otherwise.” According to the Youth leader “Ifekwem leadership was not properly constituted and therefore any levy imposed by it should be discountenanced. This is the position of ASPMDA youths and we are peaceful in maintaining it.”

So far, attempts to resolve the issue through the courts has proved abortive as a recent court judgement said to be in favour of the winner of the election, Chief Offorkansi has not been made public and his reinstatement resisted by traders.

By Osaze Omoragbon

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