NIWA CLEARS THE AIR ON CONTROVERSIAL ‘PASSAGE FEES’      

•Says Fees Not Applicable To Vessels Calling At Apapa And Tin Can Island Ports

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has shed light on the controversial $300 ‘passage fee’ which it recently introduced. The agency told one of our correspondents last week that the fee is only applicable to vessels berthing at NIWA-controlled jetties and river ports.

The Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engr Muazu Sambo told Shipping Position Daily that the levy shall not be collected from vessels berthed at Apapa or Tin Can Island ports.

The clarification came in the wake of the news making the rounds in the maritime industry that NIWA had introduced the $300 ‘passage fee’ payable by ships calling at Lagos ports.

Investigations carried out by our correspondent at the NIWA headquarters however revealed that the agency is only test-running the new levy in Lagos, and that it would still be extended to other ports and jetties in Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne and Delta.

A source disclosed that, "Lagos is the flagship for now, but if it is successful, it will extend to other areas like Port Harcourt, Delta Ports and Calabar".

But, NIWA  Lagos Area Manager;  Engr Sambo in a chat with our correspondent described the $300 levy as "The operating Tariff as approved by the Minister of Transportation, pursuant to Section 28 of the NIWA Act"

"In Lagos, jetties that will be affected are mainly from our jurisdiction after Tin Can port to Badagry, westwards".

Shipping Position Daily recalls that, in a memo signed by Engr Sambo, dated 4th February and addressed to Chairman of Berthing Meeting, Control Towers Apapa, the agency warned of sanctions for ships which fail to comply.

"In line with section 28 subsection 1 of the NNUA establishment Act and the NIWA approved Tariff 2017 edition (Section U] and subsection U12). Any Sea/Ocean/ Coastal going vessel that comes into the Inland Waterways is liable to pay passage fees of $300 per day or its equivalent"

"In view of the above, you are advised to ensure all sea going vessels that berth at your jetty comply with these provisions of the law so as to avoid any form of embarrassment that may arise from non-compliance".

NIWA has also delegated some of its staff to the Apapa port for the purpose of generating data on vessels calling at the jetty in pursuant to the collection of revenue on passage toll.

But, it explained  that the charge is not applicable to these two ship berthed at Apapa and Tin Can ports, because the ports are regulated by another Act which is the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Act.

Shedding more light on why Lagos ports are exempted from this fee, the NIWA, Lagos boss, said that since these two ports are regulated under the NPA Act and the both agencies have their jurisdictions, there will be anarchy and clash since the two agencies are serving the same purpose, even as he added that the charge has the approval of the Minister of Transportation.

He acknowledged that no agency has the right to go into the jurisdiction of the other agency  

“You have seen that this charge is contained in the current edition of the revised approved tariff for the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) at page 21. Now don't forget that this tariff has the approval of the Ministry of Transportation pursuant to the provision of section 28 of our Act. Which empowers the minister of transportation to provide for dues, rates, and charges as may be applicable to the functions of the authority which led to this tariff. Now this charge does not apply to vessels and ships that come calling in Lagos, at Apapa ports nor Tin-Can Island port”, he explained.

Sambo, maintained that NIWA has no business in any port that is designated to be under the jurisdiction of the NPA, Act.

He said that news about the fees is not correct and that rather than find out the truth, it kept spreading. “The operators didn’t understand these things and instead of them to come, like you (Shipping Position Daily) have done, you are a professional journalist and I respect you for that; for persisting to see me for clarification; that is how it should be” he said.

Explaining further he said that the charge is applicable only to vessels that pass through inland waterways outside the jurisdiction of the NPA, stressing that NIWA’s jurisdiction begins 250 meters beyond the last quay  at Tin-Can.

“The charge is applicable to vessels that passed through inland waterways outside the jurisdiction of NPA and comes into our jurisdiction and our jurisdiction in Lagos for the purpose of this two Acts begins 250 meters beyond the last quay in Tin-Can. If you go to Tin-Can Island port look at the last quay, measure 250meters our jurisdiction begins from there, it is in our Act”, he explained. 

 “So, 250 meters you are going towards Kirikiri, Ijegun, Satellite, Ojo as long as you are on inland water ways there, you are within NIWA’s jurisdiction”, he concluded.  

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