Haulage operators under the aegis of Union of Tipper and Quarry Employers of Nigeria (UTQEN) has cautioned Lagos State Government against plan to introduce multiple haulage charges in the state.
Acting National Chairman of UTQEN, Comrade Aliu Mayungbe, made this call at a media briefing in Lagos. He said that such charges will cripple the activities of haulage business in the state.
The Lagos State Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development recently stated that it was planning to obtain haulage charges from trucks transporting sands from dredging sites to complement the state’s revenue collection. Initially, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, at a town hall meeting with industry stakeholders, had described any charges from state governments illegal, as only the Federal Government had the right to collect charges on sand mining anywhere in the country.
Mayungbe said that the plan was unlawful and a disincentive to businesses in the state. The chairman noted that members of the union had been paying the said charges to government regularly through the Ministry of Transportation, stressing that effort by the Ministry of Waterfront to utilise collection agents to obtain the charges from truck drivers amounted to collecting multiple charges.
According to him, the union maintains a position of neutrality and refuses entanglement in the payment dispute between government and the Dredgers Association of Nigeria. He said: “Officials from the Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development met with our members to solicit support for introduction of haulage fees on our activities.
“The collection process was for truck drivers to obtain N500 from dredgers on each truckload of sand moved from their site and pay to the ministry’s collection agent positioned at the gate of the site.
“We resisted the fees because our activities are not regulated by Ministry of Waterfront and Infrastructure Development but by Ministry of Transportation. “Moreso, the dredgers that we are being pitched against are members of our union and every increase in charges by government impacts negatively on our operating costs and reduces job creation opportunities.”
Comrade Abimbola Odusanya, Public Relations Officer, UTQEN, Lagos State chapter, said that officials of the ministry threatened to imprison truck drivers that refused to boycott sites of dredgers that didn’t comply with the payment. He said:
“Obeying such order will hinder our business activities and relationship with dredgers. We instructed our members to resist efforts of government officials that tried to collect the payment from them,” he said. Reacting, President, Dredgers Association of Nigeria, Mr Batare Akpomejero, said a declarative Federal High Court judgment was issued against the state government and its ministries to desist from seeking to control commercial activities of dredgers