- The Police conspiracy against the Navy
- Harmonized NTC bill passed
- Transport Fares up by 150%
Apapa “Madness” Returns As Lagos Rakes In N10.8billion Port Levy
As the Apapa port access roads traffic gridlock crisis tumbles by the day with its attendant consequences on businesses, human health and the economy, the Lagos State Government has generated over N10.8billion from the Wharf Landing Fees levy since it commenced in 2009, investigation has revealed even as transport fares and haulage charges have gone up by 150 per cent.
Our findings show that what accrues to the coffers of the State government through the levy annually is over N1.1 billion, a development that has called for concern from maritime industry stakeholders who have again queried the rationale for the levy when the roads on which it was premised have remained unmaintained by the State government since it was introduced.
The general feelings of port users and keen observers is that the Lagos State Government like the Federal Government which failed to account for the 7 per cent port development levy, has equally failed to deliver on its promise of using the wharf landing fees to maintain the Apapa and Tin Can ports access facilities. The port development levy which runs into billions of Naira has not been accounted for over the years by the Federal Government.
This is coming as the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) braces up to perform the turning of sod at the Truck Transit Park(TTP) sites in Enugu and Lokoja, Kogi State, soon as the harmonized version of the National Transport Commission(NTC) bill has been passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Until two weeks ago, there was respite from the maddening road congestion for commuters and port users following the management of the truckers and trailer drivers through the call up system introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) but under the mid-wife of the Nigeria Navy .
But there seems to be a conspiracy allegedly ignited by the Port police command alleging that the Navy officials controlling the traffic were extorting the truckers. At the same breath, the port police claimed in some of their submissions that the Navy lacks the statutory right to control traffic. Consequently, the Navy withdrew from traffic control for the Port police officials who have become overwhelmed by the task. The police’s seeming inefficiency was worsened by the intervening withdrawal of services by truck drivers and the suspension of some shipping lines by NPA from receiving and offloading containers in the port over their refusal to provide holding bays for empty containers.
This was a directive issued to all the operators as a way of managing the entry and exit of trucks and loading of containers. With the worsening condition of the gridlock last week, stakeholders have called for the return of the Navy to duty.
Our Correspondent reported on Thursday that along Oshodi- Apapa Expressway which links the Tin Can Island Port, motorists and commuters were subjected to untold and unwarranted hardships as articulated vehicles blocked the entire Expressway as a result of their usual indiscriminate parking.
The trucks which have taken over the entire stretch of the corridor had extended beyond the Iyana Isolo bridge, making it impossible for motorists to ply the lanes thereby forcing them to drive one-way from Oshodi to Mile 2 and the adjourning routes.
This resulted in 100 per cent hike in transport fares on the route as commuters are now forced to pay between N300 and N500 in a journey of less than 30 minutes ,which is from Second Rainbow to Oshodi, after endless wait for unavailable buses.
While the motor cyclists known as Okada riders, make brisk business conveying stranded passengers on the expressway, there is so much chaos on the road with pedestrians running across on the expressway to avoid being hit by motorists driving in converse direction.
Tragedies have been recorded severally on the route as vehicles knock down people. Recently, a bus conductor was crushed to death at the Second Rainbow bus stop as a truck ran into the deceased bus coming from the opposite direction.
A member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers(NURTW) who spoke anonymously expressed dismay and anger at the insensitivity to the plight of road users who ply the route. He said that if the situation was not allayed they would be forced to withdraw members’ buses from this route, emphasizing that government should be held accountable for this huge failure.
The Lagos State Government had in 2009 under Babatunde Fashola as Governor introduced the Wharf Landing Fees via an Act called Wharf Landing Fees Law N0 5 of 2009.
The law introduced varying levies on imported goods that land in the country through the Lagos Ports of Tin Can and Apapa. 40-foot container attracts a levy of N1,000 each, 20-foot container attracts N500, while other small containers attract N300, while cars –Sport Utility Vehicles(SUV) and trucks attract a fee of N300, N500 and N1,000 respectively.
Those exempted from the levy are Federal Government , international agencies, Lagos State and all the Local Governments in the State.
Some of the companies that have complied with the law over the years are, Flour Mills, Elephant Group, Dangote Group, Total Plc, Sahara Energy, Eternal Oil and Fatgbems.
The National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents(ANLCA), Mr. Joe Sanni lamented how both the state government that collect levy and the Federal Government have abandoned the port access roads to this point of crisis. He further expressed surprise that the Lagos State Government has not intervened in the crisis.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello to MMS Plus that the Council had concluded arrangement to visit Lokoja and Enugu to Commence the ceremonial turning of the Sod for the TTP sites. He said soon the Projects would be advertised internationally for tenders as Transaction Advisers had since been appointed while the project Outline Business Cases(OBC) await the approval of the Federal Executive Council(FEC).
Also, with the harmonized NTC bill passed by the National Assembly, the bill will soon be sent to the President for his assent. Workers of the new National Transport Commission will be drawn from all the sister parastatals in the transport sector, Hassan Bello said.