The managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman has given an indication that the federal agency will approach a federal high court to seek the end of the collection of wharf landing fee Tax by the State government.
It would be recalled that during the middle part of the former Governor Babatunde Fashola administration, he sent the Wharf landing Fee Bill to the State House of Assembly and the speed with which the lawmakers passed the bill had not been equaled up till now.
The revenue ‘Boys’ are planted exactly in front the Wharf to collect the fee immediately a container is leaving any of the seaports in the state.
According to the State Law, N500 is paid on a 20-feet container, N1,000 on 40-feet and N300 on every vehicle imported through the ports as wharf landing fees.
But the federal Ministry of Transportation had at various times expressed anger over the fee, saying issues bordering on seaport are on the exclusive lists of the constitution, meaning that states cannot interfere.
Besides, Fashola had argued that the state is collecting the fees so that it can use same to take care of failed portions of the port access roads which it never did for one day, thus leading to the current total dilapidation of all port access roads.
Earlier in the week, truckers and licenced Customs Clearing agents had embarked on total industrial action, deserting the ports due to bad port access roads.
The last may not have been heard of the controversial wharf landing fee as the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) said it has gone to court to seek redress over the collection of the fee by the Lagos State government.
According to Usman, “We are going to, through the Attorney-General, take the Lagos State government to court over the wharf landing fee”.
Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) had raised alarm over alleged extortion and harassment of truckers by the wharf landing fee collecting authority over mode of collecting the fee, for which it claimed receipts are not issued.
Their chairman, Chief Remi Ogungbemi said “In most cases if the drivers pay this money, they don’t issue them with receipt and when they ask of receipt, it will become an offence. So we are no longer comfortable paying the money. Sometimes they impound our trucks and slam a bill of N100,000 or N500,000 and those they could not impound they forcefully break into compartment of the vehicle and remove the battery”.