Tana River County revenue officers on Wednesday swooped down on unlicensed businesses in Hola Town, closing some and dismantled illegal business structures.
The afternoon impromptu crackdown left scores of small scale traders in distress, with some counting losses.
Led by the County Director of Revenue, Mr. Kase Ddaido, the officers pounced on the unsuspecting traders said to be operating without business permits or failing to provide records of their licenses.
Speaking to reporters after the sting operation that lasted several hours, Mr. Ddaido said the revenue directorate had issued the traders with invoices in January to pay for the businesses, while others had been given up to March 31, 2019 to renew their permits.
“Very few traders responded to our demands to pay up even though we gave them more than three months to comply, and that is why we had to carry out this operation,” Mr. Ddaido said.
An unknown number of traders were arrested in the operation and are expected to be charged with flouting terms and regulations of doing business in the county.
Mr. Ddaido said his office would spread the crackdown to all urban centres in the county with a view to ensuring that all businesspeople pay up to enable the county achieve its revenue targets.
“We are going to continue with this operation in all urban centres for the next one month in the three sub counties of Tana River, Tana North and Tana Delta, in order to boost local revenues that have been low since devolution started,” he said.
He said the county had failed to meet its revenue targets, making it difficult for the county government to provide services to its people since local revenues are usually factored in during the budget process.
“The same people refusing to pay for their businesses usually turn around and accuse the county government of failing to provide services,” he lamented.
“We are aware that some traders closed down their business on learning that we are carrying out the operation, but we shall not relent till all of them either pay up or close shop,” he said.
Some traders told reporters that the county government had not given them adequate time to honour their obligations.
By Emmanuel Masha