By DAPO OLAWUNI
There is a general concern at the Tin Can Island Port as a new Task Force set up by the Lagos State Wharf Landing Fees Authority allegedly clamped down on fifteen assorted vehicles being cleared out of the port in Lagos.
Members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) confirmed to DAILY TREND NEWS that the task force is currently demanding for N100,000 on each vehicles before they can be released back to them.
A large number of clearing agents were sighted by our correspondent claustering around the Liverpool bridge holding area of the Wharf Landing Fee in Lagos, while the vehicles were parked inside.
The Wharf Landing Fees law, No.5 of 2009 was imposed by the Lagos State Government on cargoes exiting from Lagos ports into the local government areas of the State with the sole purpose of raising revenue to repair the damages heavy trucks inflict on the Lagos ports environment.
Ideally, the Wharf landing collection agents are usually stationed around Abuja Park around Tin Can Island Port, Mile 2 bus stop directly opposite PTML Terminal and Liverpool under bridge.
Immediately after leaving the ports, cars are expected to pay N200, buses pay N500, a twenty foot container pays N500, while forty foot pays N1,000.
According to a Task Force Chairman of ANLCA at Tin Can Chapter, “Cars before now are paying N200 and they are issued receipts, if it is containers, they pay N1,000, other vehicles like Sienna pays N500, it is fixed and their is an agreement for our members to be paying this money”
“But along the line, they just started arresting vehicles and asking agents to pay N100,000, we have never seen this type of harassment before”
“When agents gave them the receipts for the N200, the officials rejected it, they said there is a new order, saying that we supposed to have paid before now at their office. Some of the vehicles they impounded have cargoes inside them” he said
When DAILY TREND NEWS contacted him, the Chairman of ANLCA at Tin Can Chapter, Prince Segun Oduntan confirmed the incident, saying that the association is ontop the issue.
For the past 11years that the Wharf Landing Fee is being collected at the port, Prince Oduntan lamented that there has been no reflection of it on port operations or infrastructures.
“There is no sensitisation for the people who are going to pay the money, other government agencies carry out advertisements and campaigns before coming out with anything, but wharf landing fee is not collaborating with us or to even ask our members for their receipts to be bought”
“They cannot just start Impounding vehicles, some people came all the way outside Lagos to pick their vehicles and they dont even know what is happening. This avenue could be used to snatch these vehicles because they are yet to get numbers”
Recall that the Wharf Landing Fee Authority recently attempted to move into the port to start collection of the freight within the port premises. But this move was resisted by the Licensed Customs agents.
Speaking with our correspondent, Chairman of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMARTO) Chief Remi Ogungbemi however said such seizures and N100,000 have not been extended on container trucks so far.
Ogungbemi however vowed that truckers will frustrate such effort because it is out to rip them off.
“Anything that would jeopardise the operations of truckers, we would not support it.
The money they have so far collected have not been seen”
Efforts by our correspondent to get the Chairman of Wharf Landing Fee to speak on the issue proved abortive as at press time.
However, the immediate past Chairman of the authority, Mr Joe Igbokwe charged the clearing agents to go ahead and pay their dues.
“I was Chairman before now, there are fees to pay, it is not much, they are not robbing people of their money, let them go and pay” he said