Another round of face-off is brewing between the Lagos state government and the Federal government over collection of levies on boats, motorised dug out canoes, ferries and other water crafts which ply Lagos waters.
Collection of levies and dues from boats, canoes and ferries had been the prerogative of the National Inland Waterways Authourity (NIWA0 until the Lagos state government created the Lagos State Waterways Authourity (LASWA) to also commence collection of dues.
Shipping Position Weekly confirmed that already water transport operators in the state have been compelled to start paying the fees which includes compulsory application fee of N6, 000 as well as an annual registration fee of between N2, 000 and N25, 000 depending on the scale of operations and he capacity of the crafts.
In addition to these, owners of nay such crafts including passenger and cruise boats , barges, dredgers, fishing boats and trawlers, oil and non-oil cargo vessels a swell as floating platform that are operating within Lagos waters are expected to undergo survey to ensure that they are safe, secured and environmentally friendly.
Unofficial sources at the Lagos office of NIWA disclosed that the agency is aware of the activities of LASWA and that the federal ministry of transport has already been notified.
The source also made NIWA tariff and charges available to our correspondent and expressed shock that its charges are been replicated by LASWA; a development which he explained as capable of pitching water transport operators against the enforcement agencies.
A look at the NIWA handbook revealed that both agencies collect similar levies, even though NIWA’s scope is more embracing than that of LASWA.
For instance, NIWA collects permit fees on all categories of water crafts. Canoes are expected to pay N500, while outboard engine operators pay an annual permit fee of N5, 000. This is in addition to certificates which cost between N5, 000 and N500, 000.
Shipping Position Weekly learnt that already operators of vessels and floating platforms, factories, that are located along the waterways a swell as owners of tank farms, water front bars, restaurant and other high- grade water and water related crafts have been served notices of collection of pollution fines.
But, technical adviser to LASWA, Engineer L. Omotosho told our correspondent that some of the operators have started paying and that there could not be any controversy about the legality of the activities of the state agency.
“All boats must be registered, because Lagos state government wants to regulate their activities, especially in this period of militancy when bandits attack banks from the water fronts, we have our patrol boats that we use to monitor the water ways”, he explained, even a she affirmed that LASWA was created to collect levies and charges.
On the confrontation with NIWA and the effect of duplication of charges, Omotosho said the issue has been resolved and that a meeting had taken place between officials of the federal ministry of transport, NIWA and Lagos state government. “They agreed that we can monitor the waterways”, he claimed.
But boat operators in Apapa, Marina jetty, Takwa Bay who spoke with our correspondent confirmed that they were being forced by officials of LASWA to pay levies apart from what they had paid to NIWA at the beginning of the year.