The Lagos State Government (LASG) and the Nigerian Ports of Authority (NPA) may be on a collision course following moves by the Managing Director of NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, to stop the collection of Wharf Landing fee currently being collected by the state government on every container of cargoes that comes in to the country through the ports in Lagos.
Wharf land fee is the payment made on cargoes that passes through the Lagos ports.
While N500 is paid on a 20 foot container, N1,000 is paid on a forty foot and N300 on every vehicle imported through the ports.
Bala Usman recently questioned the legality behind the wharf landing collection in Lagos as there was no provision in the NPA Act of 1958 or as amended or is there a National Assembly legislation backing the wharf landing fees.
Also, the wharf landing fees has been utterly criticised by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) as they argue that the fee has led to rising cost of doing business in Nigeria, and also directly works against the much desired foreign investment inflow into the country.
Recently, a former Senior Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Leke Oyewole, told journalists that the collection is illegal in the first place.
Oyewole the Jonathan had administration expressed its opposition against the collection.
He said he wrote to former Governor Babatunde Fashola stating that the maritime businesses and activities were the exclusive right of the federal government, as states were not allowed to participate.
“What happens if other states decide to start collecting Wharf Landing fees, one illegality begets another illegality, and illegality should not be allowed to trive. Fashola made some categorical statements that were illegal,” he said
On the introduction of the wharf landing fees on March 16, 2009 with the successful passage of the bill into law now called, Wharf Landing Fees Law 2009, the state government had emphasised that the fee was necessary to shore up the revenue profile of the host local governments to the ports.
The LASG further argued that the revenue is needed to ameliorate the harmful consequences of trucking activities in the port areas.
The Chairman of the Lagos State Government Wharf Landing Fees Collecting Authority, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, said the Managing Director of NPA is ignorant of the law.
Igbokwe added that if any body feels aggrieved by the collection of the fee, such person can go to court to seek redress.
He said the NPA was saddled with too many challenges for it to start looking at the legality of Wharf Landing fee collection.
He explained that all land belongs to the state and all Lagos State Government is charging is the landing fee.
Igbokwe further explained that the collection of Wharf Landing fee is a worldwide practice adding that landing fees are collected in cities where ports are located.
In his reaction, NPA’s spokesman, Captain Ihenacho Ebubeogu said he could not comment until he gets inputs from the legal department of the NPA.