Penultimate week the issue of the collection of Wharf Landing Fees by the Lagos State Government (LASG) was again brought to the front burner as the Federal Government dragged the state government before the Supreme Court.
The Wharf Landing Fees regime was created by an Act of the Lagos State House of Assembly after it was signed into law on March 2, 2009, by Governor Babatunde Fashola.
Wharf Landing Fees, ranging between N300 and N1,000, were imposed on cargoes exiting any of the ports in Lagos.
Fashola said then that defaulters would face strict sanctions, but goods belonging to international agencies, the Federal, states and local governments were exempted.
“Corporate organisations that default in the new fee payment will be made to pay a fine of N500,000 while a private importer will pay a fine of N100,000 and the cost of litigation.,’’ Fashola said.
Fashola equally explained that the law was a brainchild of regulatory agencies to assist local council areas which had been saddled with the burden of maritime activities.
After the bill was signed into law, a firm was saddled with the responsibility of collecting the fee despite the several criticisms that trailed the law, one of which was that it will further increase the cost of doing business at the Nigerian seaports.
When the collection started, many stakeholders criticised the mode of collection because the firm adopted the style of the motor parks boys or agberos in the collection of the fee. They stopped trucks exiting the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) and the Tin-Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC), both in Apapa, on their respective access roads demanding for receipts and issuing receipts.
This has been causing untold hardships to operators and others people, because their activities distorted the free flow of traffic on the port access roads.
The Federal Government has sued the Lagos State Government over the fee, and the case has been adjourned till May 30, 2013, to be heard by a full court to be constituted by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
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