By Ray Ugochukwu
Barely one week after striking truckers resumed operation, there are strong indications that the port industry may soon witness another round of crisis as freight forwarders are congregating for a showdown over stifling high port charges.
Leading the pack of the aggrieved freight forwarders is the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), who in a July 23, 2018, letter addressed to all sister associations called for an emergency meeting to address the issue.
The letter was titled “NAGAFF Calls For An Emergency Meeting Of The Registered Freight Forwarding Associations To Discuss The State Of The Nigerian Ports Vide The Transportation Charges”, and signed by Rev. Emma Agubanze, Head of Special Duties.
The letter lamented the high cost of doing business in the ports and made reference to the astronomical increase in haulage, which it regretted was N650,000 for local delivery and N1.2 million for up country, saying this was unjustifiable.
It made it clear that while the freight agents were waiting for the Commercial Regulator, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), to address the matter, that it would not be out of place for the federating groups under the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to meet and consider withdrawal of services.
NAGAFF stated, “Whereas we share in the grief and difficulties the haulage group may be undergoing presently, it is regrettable the hike in haulage cost within Lagos and up country. The current charges for a 40ft container standing at N650,000 local and N1.2m naira up country are unjustifiable. It shall be the view of NAGAFF that Nigerian Shippers’ Council as the commercial regulator has the statutory mandate to mitigate the present state of unregulated transport cost.
“While awaiting for Nigerian Shippers’ Council to react and take additional steps, it shall be our mandate to invite all registered associations under CRFFN to hold a meeting to articulate our position which may lead to withdrawal of services. Meanwhile, all freight forwarders with financial means shall begin to invest on haulage trucks immediately”.
“The international division of NAGAFF has been directed to link up with multinational haulage companies in Europe, Asia and America with a view to investing in Nigeria. If we fail to do so, we are likely to be in bondage now and in the future in the hands of haulage group within the transport chain, logistics and Customs facilitation. Time 10am. Venue is NAGAFF Village and date is 24th July 2018. Concerned Freight Forwarders of Nigeria are equally invited.
“May we remark that Mr. President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, is by this release being informed that aside from issue of high level of corruption in the Nigerian Ports, it is regrettable to note that the systems are duly collapsing wherein virtually all the key operators and stakeholders may no longer be law-abiding. The ports management and administration requires Mr. President’s attention for remedy”, the group stated.
It continued, “We regret to state that it is only the Comptroller General of Customs, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Director General of Standards Organisation of Nigeria that are making concerted efforts to add value in our ports reform and productivity. However, this is not the time to blame anybody or organization but to find a lasting solution to avoidable circumstances which we all know are human arising from lack of respect for rule of law and order. We want to appreciate the effort of the Government to addressing the ports access roads. However, it is our expectation that construction work should be fast-forwarded”.
The association concluded, “This release is being endorsed to the Transportation Minister and Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria accordingly for their information and follow up”.
Increase Uche, National President of NAGAFF