By Dapo Olawuni
The Chairman, Wharf Landing Fees Collection Authority, Chief Adebayo Salvador has condemned the activities of hoodlums harassing and extorting truck drivers and already cleared vehicles on express roads, describing these activities and collections as illegal.
Salvador in an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND on Wednesday however lamented that the port operators were the main cause of their own woes because they refused to corporate with his agency by paying the wharf landing fees.
He said that the authority is facing a lot of resistance in payment of the wharf landing fees, which according to him is originally designed to be shared among various local governments in Lagos State.
Salvador alleged that the various local government areas are responsible for the hoodlums on the expressways, sent out by their chairmen to collect these illegal money’s because their revenue from Wharf Landing Fees were not forthcoming.
“Wharf Landing Fees collection is not money for Lagos State, the law was promulgated to assist the operators, Lagos State is inconveniencing itself to do this.
“Remember that before now, in every local government, you have boys holding sticks and harassing people, it was because of this that Governor Babatunde Fashola said that for ease of doing business at the port, he wants to eradicate all that and said, let us appoint an agency to collect this money for you and share among the local government areas.
“It would be paid once, so there is no multiple tax, there is no harassment of people passing through Lagos with their goods, that was the essence of the Wharf Landing Fees collection authority. The moment we remove our hands from that collection, everything would go chaotic again.
“The operators should try to assist the agency or else they would resort back to the chaotic situation they had before, local local government areas would harass them, the moment they cross the bridge, people are waiting at the mainland local government, in Surulere, Ketu, Palmgrove they are waiting for them, maybe when they experience this, they would understand that we are helping them.
“The money we collected is shared among the local government areas, but because of the resistance of the port operators now, we are already having issues with the local government areas, they are complaining and they want to revert back to the old system because we are not getting enough compliance from the people we are trying to protect.
“The Wharf Landing Fees does not pay my salary, it is the Lagos State Government that is paying me, we are just doing the service for the local governments to make things easy for you.
“The boys holding sticks are back on the road because the operators do not want to pay, all these people on the road are illegal and we have the power to arrest and prosecute them.
“However in a situation whereby the people you want to assist are not supporting you, why would I go out of my way? If I want to arrest these boys, it would cost me money, won’t it? You would not call the police to come and do these things free of charge, even though you are a government agency
“When I call the Chairmen of the local government, they would deny not knowing these boys, but by the time I arrests the boys, the Chairmen would come out and start pleading on their behalf.
“So, it’s not as if we are not aware, but the people we are trying to protect, are they really supporting us too? They are the same people complaining to you.
“Wharf Landing Fees is equivalent of $2.00 as at fifteen years back which is N300.00 and this is what they are still paying up till now even though $2.00 is no longer N300.00
The local government areas harassing them on the road, are they collecting N300.00? The illegal fees they are asking them to pay is above N1,000, sometimes N2,000
“If we have sufficient funds, all we need to do is constitute a task force, and all these boys would disappear from the road, we need to work with the various union’s, but the moment they are not supporting, then it’s okay” Salvador concluded