Outrage as Lagos moves to increase wharf landing fees
Some importers and clearing agents operating at the ports in Lagos yesterday expressed outrage over plans by the Lagos State Government to increase the controversial wharf landing fee.
The Wharf Landing Fee Collecting Authority recently announced that it has approached the Lagos State Assembly for an upward review of the wharf landing fee, which is collected on all goods imported into Nigeria through Lagos ports.
The Chairman of the agency, Adegboyega Adebayo, said this when he received executives of the Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) led by its National President, Kingsley Chikezie at the agency’s office in Apapa Lagos.
The Wharf Landing Fees Law No. 5 of 2009 was introduced during the regime of Babatunde Fashola to empower the Lagos State Government to collect various sums of money as fees from goods that land at the ports in Apapa and Tin Can Island.
Under the law, various levies, which vary from N300 to N1, 000 were imposed on consignments transported from Lagos ports to other parts of the state and the country.
According to Adebayo, after collecting the fee, it is shared among the 57 local government areas in the state, explaining that the money is paid directly to the government purse.
He, however, lamented that after 13 years of collection, the funds are no longer adequate and there is a need for an increase.
“For 13 years now, we are not supposed to remain on the same amount of N300 to N1000 because the dollar exchange rate is no longer the same, the value of the collection is no longer the same, the local government areas are crying, that is why you see their touts outside along the roads.
“If the Chairman of any local government area tells you that they do not know about the presence of these boys collecting money from vehicles, they are lying. This is because the money coming to them is no longer adequate.
“So, definitely, we need to review the collection, so that the local government receiving N5million can collect N15million or N20million, with this, there would be no illegal collections on the road,” he said.
Adebayo also stated that the agency was working with the Nigerian Shippers Council’s Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) to clear the port access roads of shanties and hoodlums impersonating wharf landing collecting agents, thereby ripping the agency of its revenue.
“But more importantly, our mandate is to collect the wharf landing fee, and we believe that with this rapport with the IMAN, we would reduce the leakages. As of today, I believe we are not collecting more than 20 per cent of what we should be collecting
“There are a lot of leakages going on, and the money is usually paid by the importers to the clearing agents, but the agents refuse to pay it. I have heard of some clearing agents collecting N50,000 as wharf landing fee on a car that is supposed to pay just N300.
“You are critical stakeholders, the owners of the cargoes, you suffer the brunt when your cargoes are impounded, but unfortunately, we have not known you before now,” he said.
On his part, the IMAN President, Kingsley Chikezie said his members are lamenting seriously about the wharf landing fee collection.
“We are in complete support of the digitisation of the wharf landing fee collection, we don’t need to see people on the road, everybody is going digital now, as soon as we tidy up the clearing process, we can pay our fees directly. This would increase revenue generation and reduce the clumsiness on the roads,” he said.
Some importers and clearing agents who spoke separately with SHIPS & PORTS, lament the impending increase in the fee, stating that it would further increase the cost of doing business at the ports.