Abiola Seun |
Crisis has hit the collection of wharf landing fee at the Lagos Ports as clearing agents and importers accused the Lagos State Wharf Landing Fees Collecting Authority (LSWLFCA) of deploying touts to enforce the collection of the tax.
Recall that the Lagos State government collects N300 for cars and N500 for SUV, jeeps and buses, and imposes an infraction of N100,000 on individual defaulters and N500,000 on corporate defaulters.
Speaking on reasons why clearing agents refused to stop to pay the statutory wharf landing fee along the ports access roads, a cross section of clearing agents explained that it is difficult to differentiate between officials of the LSWLFCA and touts along the ports access roads.
According to one of the clearing agents who identified himself as Mr. Badmus Olaniyi, “Whenever you are taking vehicles out of the ports, there are so many touts waiting for you along the port access roads. Some will be wielding long sticks that are used to hit your vehicle if you refuse to stop.
“Many of these touts claim to work for the LSWLFCA. They are dressed in mufti, mostly jeans trousers and shirts. If you stop, they will collect N500 from you if it’s a jeep that you are driving out of the ports. If it’s a car, they will collect N300. For whatever amount they charge you, they won’t give you a receipt.
“At times, if you refuse to stop to pay, your vehicle will be chased by a team of officials of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), and arrested for defaulting in the payment of the Lagos wharf landing fee. The problem is, how do we recognize the officials of the LSWLFCA? Even if they have uniforms, they should stand in different locations from young guys wearing mufti and claiming to be working for the LSWLFCA.”
When contacted, spokesman of the LSWLFCA, Michael Oputeh, denied allegations that the agency employs touts to collect the wharf landing fee.
In his words, “The least that we have among our employees are school certificate holders. We have OND, HND, B.Sc holders as employees at the LSWLFCA.
“Yes, we have received complaints of touts standing along the ports access roads to collect fees from port users, but these people are not our workers. We heard that these boys claim to be working for the Apapa Local Government. What I know is that they don’t work with us.
“We have a nominal role of people working with us, and the least among them is a school certificate holder. We don’t employ touts at the Lagos Wharf Authority and our officials are always on uniform”
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