The Organized Private Sector (OPS) has raised concerns over the proliferation of taxes and other sundry levies in Lagos State.
They also expressed dissatisfaction with incessant delays often experienced in the process clearing cargoes at the nation’s port located at Apapa.
At the 5th Corporate Assembly held at the instance of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode; representatives of the private sector took their turns to bare their minds on the critical roles of the sector to the economy and the way forward for Nigeria.
At the meeting tagged A+ Meets Business, the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (LCCI), Dr Nike Akande, who stressed the need for constant public-private dialogue between the government and the OPS, called for more stakeholders efforts to make Lagos a model.
Dr Akande called the attention of the governor to the multiplicity of levies which has made the movement of delivery vans and trucks within the metropolis a nightmare.
According to her, there are too many permits and licenses to be obtained.
Akande, a former Minister of Industry added that the situation could be so bad that “some of the vehicles had to carry as much as fifteen stickers on their windscreens.
The following are mandatory licenses and permits: Lagos Drivers Institute License, driver’s license by the Federal Road Safety Commission, local government permit, hackney permit and Dual Carriage, vehicle license, certificate of road worthiness, barge permit, conductors barge, vehicle identification tag, vehicle radio and television permit, vehicle outdoor mobile environmental sanitation permit, Nigerian Police emblem, Lagos State consolidated emblem, Ministry of Transport Certification [MOT] certificate, your
Excellency, these copious permits and licenses will certainly create compliance problems,” she stressed.
The industrialist also wanted the Nigerian government to revamp the situation of cargo clearing at the Lagos ports as she called for speedy fixing of the rail tracks to allow easy movement of heavy goods.
“Fix the rail system to facilitate the evacuation of cargo from Lagos ports in order to reduce the use of the articulated vehicles and indirectly reduce carnage on Lagos roads. Relocate the Tank Farms to reduce the convergence of fuel tankers on the Apapa corridor,” the LCCI President noted.
Also contributing to the discourse, the Chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Mr Folahanmi Odunayo expressed worry about the state of roads and the attendant traffic gridlock bedeviling business in the Apapa axis.
Mr Odunayo, however, urged the Lagos State Government to discuss with his predecessor- Mr Babatunde Fashola who is the current Minister of Power, Works and Housing, on how to quickly pay the contractor handling the Apapa trailer park as well as on how to fix the bad roads.
“Your Excellency, I am the Chairman of M.A.N. Apapa, my office is located within the port but whenever we want to hold meetings, we use hotels far away from our base due to traffic issues arising from bad roads. Since the Minister of Works is the former governor of this state, we should not have any problem finding a solution. Please sir, discuss with the Minister and let the contractor constructing the trailer park be paid. This will ease the traffic because of the trucks that have to park on the roads,” he said.
The Chairman, Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Mr Segun Kuti-George, in a brief remark, called the attention of government to the need to create enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Mr Kuti-George specifically mentioned three areas including power (electricity), technology and market.
Nigeria must take advantage
Other contributors at the corporate were the President, Nigeria-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry Industry, Mr Binto Famotimi and Mr Antrew Thorburn of DFID-GEMS (Department for International Development-Growth & Employment in States).
They both tasked Nigeria to take advantage of the myriads of opportunities from
the large population and other natural resources to rejig the economy.
While responding to some of the issues raised, Governor Ambode assured that government would work out modalities on how to streamline some of the levies.
He assured members of the OPS as well as would-be investors that the state was ready to sustain and improve on the enabling environment already for businesses to thrive with the overall aim of improving on the socio-economic well being of the citizens.
The Governor said as a government, he was ready to partner with existing and would-be investors for industrial growth as far such investors were bringing value to the state.
Governor Ambode said as part of measures aimed at encouraging investment, his administration created the N25 billion Employment Trust Fund to give soft loans to entrepreneurs at just three percent, while the Office of Overseas Affairs and Investments otherwise known as Lagos Global, the Office of Civic Engagement, as well as the
Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment Generation were equally established, all in a bid to promote investment opportunities.