By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Government said the state Wharf Landing Fees Collecting Authority has the legal backing to collect fees from vehicles being cleared out of the port of Lagos.
Chairman of the Authority, Prince Gboyega Salvador-Adebayo, gave the clarification following trending story on the social media about the fees-collecting Authority alleged illegal clamp down on 15 assorted vehicles being cleared out of the port.
Instructively, the Lagos State Wharf Landing Fees Collecting Authority Law was enacted in 2009 by the Lagos State House Assembly.
This was sequel to the approvals given by the office of the Joint Tax Board and the Federal Ministry of Finance in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
According to Salvador-Adebayo, who spoke through the Public Affairs Officer of the Authority, Oputeh Michael, “I will categorically state that the members of the Nigeria Licensed Customs Agent, ANLCA, and other maritime unions are fully aware of the wharf landing fees collection by the Lagos State Government.
“Immediately after leaving the ports, trucks, buses and cars are expected to pay the fixed fees stated in the Law, which are known to the agents.
“The agents claimed they pay N200 and they issued a receipt, I will equally state that the least of the wharf landing fees is N300 for cars and we don’t issue receipt we only give stickers. The agency only issue receipts to those that pay penalty to the state government’s account.
“Any person in possession of goods on which wharf landing fee is chargeable, whether as the owner, shipper, transporter or agent shall be liable to pay the amount prescribed in the schedule in the law.
“The wharf landing fees collectors are not thugs as claimed by the agents and other maritime unions. They are collecting revenue on behalf of the Lagos State government and the majority of them are graduates from Nigerian higher institutions.”
He maintained that agents were not harassed by the officers or any task force of the authority, adding that since they always try to avoid payment of the fees “to our officers, then they will pay the penalties to the state government.”
Salvador-Adebayo continued: “Any person who contravenes the provisions of the law shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction, in the case of a body corporate to a fine of N500,000, payment of the wharf landing fees prescribed under the law and cost of litigation.
“In the case of an individual, N100,000 payment of wharf landing fees prescribed under the law and cost of litigation.
“So anybody that wants to challenge our penalty slam on them should go to court.”