By DAPO OLAWUNI
There was tension inside the Tin Can Island Ports on Wednesday as the Lagos State Government made an attempt to start collection of its controversial Wharf Landing Fee inside port terminals but the officials were rebuffed by angry freight forwarders who drove them out of the port.
Sources at the port confirmed to DAILY TREND NEWS that the Wharf Landing Fee collecting authority had engaged dockworkers to help them in collecting the fee inside port terminals even before the trucks move out of the port.
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 Lagos Ports of Apapa and Tin Can Island.
Recall that in an exclusive chat with our correspondent, President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju had confirmed that the union has signed an agreement with Lagos Government to help them collect the wharf landing fee.
He said the move is to further put direction in collection of the fee and to improve revenue for the union as well.
Adeyanju told our correspondent that with the union involvement, collecting officials of the fee would not be seen on the road, but the fee would be collected inside the terminals.
But speaking with our correspondent separately yesterday, angry freight forwarders said the Lagos Government cannot be allowed to collect any fee inside the terminals, saying that already, there are too many government agencies inside the port.
“The Lagos State Government went to engage the dockworkers to help them in collection of Wharf Landing Fee, they want to start collecting it inside the terminal but we are telling them it is not possible”
“The Lagos State Government does not have the right to enter inside the terminal, they should go back to the roadside where they have been collecting it before”
“We sent them away. The dockworkers are not up to us in number, but it is our leaders that are not encouraging us to carry out confrontations, the fee is not paid by them, we are the ones paying it”
Comrade Adeyanju had told our correspondent that “We have just signed an MoU with Lagos State Wharf Landing Operations, we try to collaborate with them on this wharf landing fee collection”
“It has been in existence since the time of Gov Raji Fashola, but now we as Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria are partnering with them on revenue generation”
“It is more or less a revenue drive, if they do not see efficiency in us, they would not come to us and say we should collaborate, it is because of the efficiency they saw in us, this means that more revenue for them, and better for the Maritime Workers Union”
“It is the same method they have using for collection of the toll that is still being maintained, some companies even pay in bulk to the wharf landing in order not to disrupt their trucks on the road”
“Our own is just like a back up, we have signed MoU with them, our members are now going to be with them, we not talking about touts, I mean from level of Presidents, District officers, and other executive officers of the union are the ones representing us there”
“The collaboration would reduce gridlock in Apapa, the situation whereby officials go on the road and start blocking trucks would no longer work, it would now be done inside the terminal through the truck owners”
“The truck owners have been complying, it is not a new thing”
Adeyanju noted that most roads constructed in Apapa during Governor Fashola tenure in Lagos is as a result of effort of the wharf landing fee collection”