By DAPO OLAWUNI
Following the disclosure on Monday by the Lagos State Wharf Landing Fee Collecting Authority that it was planning to increase the price of the fee collection on imported goods, clearing agents and freight forwarders in response have knocked the agency.
Chairman of the Wharf Landing Fee Collecting Authority, Hon Adegboyega Salvador disclosed to journalists on Monday that the agency is currently at State Assembly for an upward review in the 13-years old law which enables Lagos State to collect N300 on vehicles, N500 on buses and N1,000 on trucks coming out of the ports.
He also accused the clearing agents of being a bane to the Wharf Landing Fee collection, saying that after collecting the money from their principals, they fail to pay to the agency.
Reacting, Dr Segun Musa, Deputy President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) said the Wharf Landing Fee is the most unfortunate thing that has ever happened the maritime industry and all the leaders in the freight forwarding and customs brokerage industry are guilty and responsible for this misfortune.
“All the leaders can not claim not to have benefited directly or indirectly from the fraudulent wharf landing fee being charged by lagos state government and I stand to be corrected.
“Unfortunately, silence of the leaders in the face of oppression is a direct indication that they are only interested in self and only self without considering the impacts of the hardships on innocent and upcoming practitioners and the industry at large.
“Despite all efforts to put up fights against the lagos state government when this intellectual fraud was introduced the leaders silence frustrated it at the Seaports but I was able to defeat the lagos state government monsters at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport despite all the influences.
“The maritime sector is dominated with the self interest leaders that are careless about the future of our industry but only express concerns when it affects their personal interest.
“I implore the young upcoming practitioners to take their future into the hands and form a formidable movement to turn around the misfortune of our industry through selfless service and dedication” he said
Also speaking, PTML Chapter Chairman of International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) Chief Sunny Nnebe queried what the monies so far collected over the years was used for.
According to him, the wharf landing fee is an illegality and wickedness on importers making use of Lagos ports because such a fee is not collected in other Eastern ports.
He said “do they use the money to repair port roads? do they use dollars to do that? why is the Chairman talking about exchange rate and if there’s no port in Lagos can they come with this wicked demand?
“Before Governor Babatunde Fashola implemented this forceful collection, has the local government not been funded? A demand for an increase in this regard amounts to wickedness and mockery of other states whose occupants actually do the importation but don’t have port in their states” he said
On his part, Hon Remilekun Sikiru, a Youth Leader of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Tin Can Island Port debunked insinuations by the Wharf Landing Fee Collecting Authority Chairman that some clearing agents collect as high as N50,000 from their importers under the guise of paying the fee.
Remilekun said that the agency posing it’s officials on port access roads to chase after cleared vehicles to collect the fee is tantamount robbery and touting.
“Their activities is causing a lot of traffic on port access roads, especially at Liverpool under bridge and along Trinity bus stop, they have gone as far as recruiting area boys with a lot of weapons damaging vehicles as a result of the fees collection.
“What the chairman of the agency, Chief Adegboyega Salvador said that agents collected as whooping as N50,000 from importers for the agency fee is laughable, how can importers who hardly pay total charges for the agent now give you such?
“We as clearing agents pays the fee from our own pocket and the Chairman has failed to let the public know that his men attached with policemen and soldiers most especially under Liverpool bridge forcefully drag-off vehicles from us to their compound anytime our members begged them that no money
“They even towed our vehicles with a towing vehicle which will be added to your charges as a penalty which is nothing less than 100k for settlement .
He concluded that if the Wharf Landing Authority could digitalise the collection by removing it’s touts from port access roads, this would be a welcome idea. He however said that an increase in the fee at this time would not be tolerated by the agents.