After much counter attacks, Lagos State Wharf Landing Fees Collecting Authority (LSWLFCA) has introduced penalties against importers and truckers who resist collection of wharf landing fees at the port access roads.
Truck owners and freight forwarders had complained that the method employed by officials of LSWLFCA in collecting the fee had caused hardship, losses and hindered free flow of traffic in the Apapa port environment.
They claimed that 15 trucks laden with goods had been arrested on the road in a few days.
Nevertheless, the authority explained that any corporate body and individual, who contravenes the provisions of the agency, would be fined N500,000 and N100,000 respectively.
The fees was introduced by the Lagos State Government in 2009, under the Wharf Landing Fees Law No. 5 of 2009 on goods that land at the Lagos Ports of Apapa and Tin Can Island to ameliorate the harmful consequences of trucking in the port areas.
Importers are paying N500 on a 20-feet container, N1,000 on 40-feet and N300 on every vehicle imported through the seaports.
According to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s statistics, no fewer than 808,516 Twenty Equivalent Unit (TEUs) of containers 192, 164 TEUs of containers were received at the Lagos ports in 2019.
However, the Chairman of the authority, Gboyega Salvador-Adebayo, who explained on the alleged illegal clampdown of 15 vehicles cleared from the port terminals, noted that members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) and other maritime unions were aware of the wharf landing fee collection by the state government.
Salvador-Adebayo, who spoke through the agency’s Public Affairs Officer, Oputeh Michael, said that trucks, buses and cars were expected to pay the fixed amount immediately they exited the port.
He explained: “Any person in possession of goods on which wharf landing fee is chargeable, whether as the owner, shipper, transporter or agent shall be liable to pay the amount prescribed in the schedule in the law.
“The wharf landing fees collectors are not thugs as claimed by the agents and other maritime unions; they are collecting revenue on behalf of the Lagos State Government and the majority of them are graduates from Nigerian higher institutions.”
The chairman noted that the agents were not harassed by the officers or any task force of the authority, adding that since they always tried to avoid payment of the fees, they would pay the penalties to the state government.
According to him, “any person who contravenes the provisions of the law shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction, in the case of a body corporate to a fine of N500,000 payment of the wharf landing fees prescribed under the law and cost of litigation. In the case of an individual, N100,000 payment of wharf landing fees prescribed under the law and cost of litigation. So anybody that wants to challenge our penalty slammed on them should go to court.”
Early this year, the President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, noted that the union had signed an agreement with Lagos state Government to help them collect the wharf landing fee at the port.
However, angry freight forwarders contended that the Lagos State Government would not be allowed to collect any fee inside the terminals on the ground that there were too many government agencies inside the port.