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The state of Lagos

Dear Editor,

I would just like to drop a quick message to you about the state of Lagos and its authorities at the moment.

I am a business owner in Lagos and have been a resident for some time and have frequented the Lagos area since 1997. My business is a tourism based agency and so we operate for seven months of the year and close for the rest of the year.

During the winter I visit our shop every day to collect mail, re-post it to the correct address when I get other people’s, as the postmen don’t seem to be able to understand addresses, and to be sure there are no outstanding bills to pay.

In March this year, we re-opened and shortly after I had a representative from the câmara appear in my shop with no I.D., wearing casual clothing and holding a plumber’s wrench saying I had to pay a re-connection fee for my water supply. When I pointed out to him that my water was on, he said that it will not be if I don’t pay the fee and outstanding bill – is this  not extortion of a kind?

I had never received a bill for the water and so went to the câmara to find out what was going on. I’m then told they sent a letter but if it didn’t turn up, it was not their responsibility. Out of principle I refused, as incompetence in the Portuguese system should not mean I have to pay fines to the authorities in my mind.

Yesterday I received a call from my bank telling me that my business account has now been frozen by Lagos Câmara until I pay €350 for my €15 initial bill.

If this place is part of the EU, how can they get away with this? The thing is, I have a huge network of friends in the Algarve and all are complaining about similar actions being made by the authorities. I’m getting a very strong feeling that we are being victimised and singled out as a source of income for a bankrupt, badly run authority with even worse attitude to the people who create business in the Algarve and  develop the area, namely foreigners who now choose to reside here.  

Well, I will not pay no matter what, I would rather close my business over a small amount of money than be stolen from in such a manner.

Best regards, just another victim!