Even as the Governor of Lagos state, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola has signed the controversial wharf landing fees bill into law, a cross-section of maritime industry stakeholders have given their support to the take-off of the bill.
Speaking to our correspondents on the bill shortly before the Governor appended his signature last week, some members of the shipping community acknowledged that the state government was carrying enormous responsibilities especially in the area of infrastructural development and requires all funds that it can muster.
Their reactions coincided with last week’s declaration by the Nigerian Shippers Council that the issue was between the Federal Government and the Lagos state government.
Executive Secretary of the Council, which was statutorily created to protect interests of importers and exporters Capt. Adamu Biu, told reporters that it had expressed objection to the law at the initial stage and that since the law had already been passed and signed into law, the Council can not do anything.
The bill was passed into law about three weeks ago, while the Governor signed it into law last week Monday, March 16, 2009, paving way for the commencement of collection any moment form now.
Shipping Position Weekly had scooped in its volume two, 17th edition that the bill may be signed into law before the end of March and that is collection may take-off within the first quarter of 2009.
One of the respondents who is also the Coordinator of task force of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents at Tin Can Island port, Mr K.K Olayiwola told our correspondent that he was totally in support of the levy.
“I support the collection because ports users in Lagos directly or indirectly make use of our roads. So, they should compensate the state government by paying the fees. States in the Niger Delta are collecting fees from oil companies that are operating in their states”, he and added that:”With the performance of Governor. Fashola, the money will be well utilized as it will provide good roads and other amenities for those of us that reside in Lagos, anybody working Apapa will know that though they have not commenced the collection, more should be expected once it starts because the governor knows what he is doing”.
Another stakeholder, Mr Boniface Chukwu, an importer declared that :Looking at the bill, the charges are okay, but how are we sure that the officials that will control the collection won’t mess it up through corruption; I believe you know what I mean by that. It’s up to Lagos state government to take it up and know what to do”.
Speaking in the same vein, a staff of one of the government agencies in Apapa, Mr Ajayi Ojotemile stated that the state government has done well enough to ask members of the shipping community to contribute a little to the development of Lagos.
“Lagos state government has really tried, so I think we should support with the little that they request from port users so that our state can be a real mega city in all spheres”, he appealed.
But in his reaction to last week’s signing by Governor Fashola, the founder of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders which ahs maintained opposition to the levy , Dr Boniface Aniebonam expressed concern that collection of the fees could trigger similar reactions not only in littoral states, but also in states that containers pass through en route the consignee’s warehouse.