19 September 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The Lagos State Government has been accused of creating the environment for its agency to monopolise water transportation by slamming high levy on private boat operators.
The proposed Lagos State Ferry Services (LAGFERRY), which is expected to come on stream before the end of the year is the vehicle for it to dominate the water transport sub-sector.
The operators lamented that the proposed N140,000 annual fee introduced by the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA ) would further send most private operators out of business when implemented.
Recall the state government through LASWA had met with the operators on the need to introduce the annual levy in a bid to generate revenue for the state.
Speaking with the media in Lagos recently, Zonal Chairman, Ibasa Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transportation of Nigeria (ATBOWATAN), Comrade Adeniyi Agbedahunsi, said though the association was still in talks with an agency, the amount fixed as annual due might drive some of them out of business.
Agbedahunsi lamented that when implemented, transporters without such funds would find it difficult to operate within the inland waterways.
He also frowned at the proposed dues, saying that the timing of its introduction was wrong given the prevailing harsh business environment in the country.
“The association has engaged the agency on several occasions on the fee and the government is yet to decide if it will reduce it or not.
“Negotiations are ongoing and we will continue to make them understand that the fee is pretty much considering the fact that the cost of doing this kind of business is high”, Agbedahunsi said.
Asked if the proposed fee was in any way connected to the state’s own ferry service which is expected to commence in earnest, the group’s Agbedahunsi disclosed that there are indications that the fee could serve as a tool to reduce the number of players in the business.
“The LASWA is set to generate revenue for the government by all means and we are the ones that they want to use as a guinea pig,” Agbedahunsi said.
According to him, the operators pay dues and levies to the National Inland Waterways Authority, adding that LASWA’s proposed fee was strange and amounts to double taxation.