The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has described the Wharf Landing Fee imposed on all cargoes landing at Lagos ports, by Lagos State Government as one of the shortcomings of Nigeria’s federal structure.
The Director General of LCCI; Mr Muda Yusuf who said this last week in an interview with Shipping Position Daily in Lagos, also said that if there is a proper federal structure, Lagos state government as a host of these ports should be meeting better statutory revenue, aside the Wharf Landing Fee.
He maintained that it is an abnormal for the state hosting these ports not gaining anything, adding that it was this situation that necessitated the Wharf Landing Fee.
Muda added that it will be unfair for the state government as the host of the ports not to gain anything from the activities going on in the ports.
“Because it is the state government that will have to take care some of the roads and the environment, some of the port workers have their children in schools and the state government have to take care of the hospitals. So it is part of the issue of the shortcoming of our federal structure, because if you have a proper federal structure, Lagos State Government should be meeting better statutory revenue outside the wharf landing fee, in fact the wharf landing fee won’t be necessary”, he argued.
He charged the Federal Government to revisit the issue of the federal structure to ensure that some percentage of revenue is giving to any state where a port is located.
“But you have an abnormal situation where all the revenues that are being generated from the ports, state that is the host of the ports, is not gaining anything. So that is what I think informed the wharf landing fee and it would not be fair to say that the state government should not get anything, what I think is better is for us to revisit the whole issue of our federal structure and ensure that whatever is happening at the ports, statutorily any state that is hosting the ports; not only Lagos, should be getting the percentage of whatever revenue is accruing to federal government. The money cannot meet the right kind of impact; it cannot be compared to the port levy which is 5% of the duty”.
On the arguments in some quarters, he said that the fee should not be scrapped as it helps the state government to carry out some projects, even though the money is small.
“I think that amount is not so significant in my view, I think we should be talking about much bigger areas to reduce cost. For me, I won’t say it should be scrapped because the Lagos State Government is carrying a lot of burden from the activities coming out from the ports. Most of the roads around there are being maintained by the state government, look at all the bridges, queues and all that and the environmental problems that they are causing. All these things, the state government doesn’t get any revenue from it and that is also not fair”.
He maintained that the fees payable in the sector are already too many, stressing that there is a lot of extortions still going on in the ports.
“You see the fees that we pay in the maritime sector is too high, but I don’t know whether we can specifically be talking about the wharf landing fee now, because when you compare the cost of inefficiency that takes place at the ports, the type of demurrage that people are made to pay because the process is slow, the kind of cost the importers are made to pay, because the processes are slow. Then when you also take into account all the extortions that happen among government agencies; the way they extort importers and freight forwarders, you come to a conclusion that the cost is quite high”, he added.
He however blamed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for the dilapidated state of the port access roads, adding that the port levy paid by importers should be used for the development of facilities in the ports.
He reiterated that the government is making enough money that can be used to repair the roads.
“I think the issue of road maintenance, we should hold the NPA more responsible because what are they using the port levy for, it is supposed to be for the development of facilities within the ports and maybe outside the ports”.