Worried by the numerous challenges affecting freight forwarding practitioners in Nigeria, the Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders (APFFLON) has joined the Concerned Nigerian Registered Freight Forwarders (CNRFF) to urge Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other agencies of government to urgently address lingering managerial and operational issues at the ports.
APFFLON made this known in a press statement signed by its National President, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, where the group stated that it could no longer feign ignorance about the plight of freight forwarders and gross display of insensitivity by concerned authorities.
“We are not unaware of myriad of operational challenges currently being faced by freight forwarders,which include, multiple alerts on single declaration, skyrocketed CIF, frustration of freight forwarders by Taskforce, FOU, Enforcement and Valuation Units, shipping companies’ high-handedness, especially the forceful collection of 10 to 14 days upfront charges and additional demurrage demand after the expiration of initial rating on containerized goods”
“Delays in refund of container deposits, high level of impunity by terminal operators despite non-availability of standard equipment, Police harassment and interception of exited containers and vehicles as well as regular attacks on freight forwarders by Area Boys, etc,” the statement read.
APFFLON stated that it supports the position of CNRFF demanding that Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) should rise to the occasion in a bid to solve these problems.
“The issue of alleged misappropriation of fund by the management of CRFFN must be urgently addressed as allegations of such magnitude can not be swept under the carpet. We demand transparent stewardship and we will not be part of the ploy by any group or representatives of government to ditch sensitive allegations against the management of CRFFN or other agencies of government in the maritime sector,” it said.
The group described the current port environment as an era of helplessness as those expected to raise voices in defense of freight agents are the ones shutting down others for selfish interests.
According to APFFLON, it is saddening that six months after the deployment of scanners to major seaports in the country, Customs have stuck with the 100 percent physical examination of cargoes thereby elongating cargo clearance and frustrating freight forwarders.
It recalled that findings and recommendations by the House Committee on Customs and Exise led by the Committee Chairman, Hon. Leke Babajide, have been jettisoned, five months after a tour of Customs Commands and all ports, to carry out investigation on transparency and how to improve ports operations by the Committee.
“The Chairman, during the tour, noted that manual cargo inspection also contributes to delays in the ports and land borders, describing it as an “untenable status quo that must be changed”
“APFFLON is shocked to the marrow, that several months after, nothing has changed, rather we have continued to face worse operational challenges. We are in total support of CNRFF’s position that these issues have to be resolved at a roundtable, although we don’t support an industrial action yet; all these issues must be urgently addressed,” it added.