By Godfrey Bivbere
THE Lagos State Wharf Landing Fees Collecting Authority, LSWLFCA, has given its side of the case of attack on the officers by individuals opposed to the fees.
Vanguard Maritime Report gathered that trouble started when the enforcement team of LSWLFCA impounded eight vehicles after the drivers beat its checkpoint.
Speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report, Public Affairs Officer of LSWLFCA, Michael Oputeh, said that the drivers called some persons who came with two vehicles and several motor bikes and forcefully released the vehicles after disposing the workers present of their phones, cash and jewelleries.
He said: “What actually happened that night is that there are some vehicles that we impounded because they refused to pay their wharf landing fees charged at N300 for cars and N500 for Jeeps/buses. Some of them were carrying police officers and as a result beat our first collecting point, we have another collecting point very close to our office where they ran into our enforcement team.
“Suddenly two vehicles, one of them branded and several bikes arrived. One of them who seem to be the leader came to me to ask why the vehicles were impounded. One of them told the leader that they should beat me up and I was attacked, it was one soldier that came to my rescue and asked me to go to ‘Area B’ Police station to make a statement. The Police came and took pictures and invited some of them that were identified.
“That night they took my phones, some cash on me and my wedding ring. Our Accounts Officer that was around that night, they took his phones and some other belongings.”
Wharf Landing Fees are payable by consignees, shipping companies or their agents in respect of goods discharged from vessels calling at designated ports The fee is akin to motor park levy, which is established source of local government revenue.
The Lagos State Wharf Landing Fees Law was enacted in 2009 by the Lagos State House of Assembly. This was sequel to the approval given to Apapa Local Government by the office of the Joint Tax Board and the Federal Ministry of Finance in 2001 and 2002 respectively, during the administration of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola.