ANLCA, NAGAFF Strike Action Not Cancelled

ANLCA, NAGAFF Strike Action Not CancelledThe Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) have debunked claims that they have suspended their strike actions.

Both freight forwarding bodies had threatened to withdraw their services from the nation’s ports and issued a 21-day notice to the federal government. However, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service paid courtesy visits to both associations the following week, leading to suggestions that the aggrieved associations may have shelved the strike.

The bodies, in the statement issued by National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) urged the Inspector General of Police, the Comptroller General of Customs, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council to kick start a process to restore sanity and reduce the high level of corruption at the ports.

“It is our view that NPA, NCS and NSC may wish to kick-start consultations with the critical stakeholders in this regard for the attention of the Hon. Ministers mentioned”, the statement indicated, if the aggrieved parties would not be forced to withdraw their services from the ports.

“The Freight Forwarders and Licensed Customs Agents are seriously complaining of high level corruption in the various ports and border stations occasioned by agents of Government impunity, high handedness and abuse of office.  The terminal operators and shipping companies are not left out in the onslaught.

“The frivolous charges of Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), abuse of office, intimidation, harassment, extortion and illegal detention of Freight Agents by enforcement Units of Government Agencies in breach of Standard Operating Condition of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and Section 154 of the Customs law.

“At our end, NAGAFF and ANLCA have started consultations with a view to ensuring that Freight Forwarders and Licensed Customs Agents do not withdraw their services as first option in their agitation and complaints, pending the outcome of any intervention as may be made by Government.  The Nigerian ports are very strategic to the ailing economy at this moment”, the statement said.

Twenty-one days has passed since the threat to withdraw services which was published on March 20th, however, ANLCA and NAGAFF have refused to make any bold statement about the status of the strike.

However, the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) revealed that the associations have only given the Federal Government ample time to react to the issues.

Shittu was speaking at a workshop organized by the Customs on the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ last week.

Meanwhile, NAGAFF has accused journalists covering the Nigerian Maritime industry of dishing out incisive reporting to provoke their withdrawal of service from the nation’s ports.

The National Publicity Secretary of NAGAFF, Mr. Stanley Ezenga who stated this in a statement he issued in Lagos alleged that some of the journalists who carried out a follow up report on a 21 day notice of withdrawal of service issued to the federal government by NAGAFF and its sister association, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) were being sponsored to do so.

Ezenga further accused some of the heads of the government agencies of desiring that the ports be distressed with the withdrawal of service by the freight forwarders.

The NAGAFF spokesman however maintained that the incisive reporting notwithstanding, the subsequent action to the extent of withdrawal of service by NAGAFF members was in the public interest as the corruption level and breaches of statutory laws had become over bearing.

According to him, “We want to appreciate the initial meetings NAGAFF may have had with the Customs, NPA and Shippers Council with a view to avoiding the impending withdrawal of service by our members in the Customs ports and approved border locations of Nigeria. We have severally explained that the issue of withdrawal of service from the ports and borders should be the last option in a democracy. The expectation is that Government should engage the oppressed in a sincere manner with a view to resolving all issues raised for the good of our country and international trade in particular.

“NAGAFF is of the opinion that heads of the Government who for obvious reasons are acting within the delegated powers of Mr. President should be proactive in their responsibilities because nobody should expect Mr. President to be everywhere. In the opinion of NAGAFF, it is apparent that some of the heads of the Government agencies want the ports to be distressed with the withdrawal of service by the freight forwarders.

“We have equally noted the incisive reporting of a section of the press to provoke the withdrawal of service from the ports and it is our opinion that some of them are being sponsored in that regard. Whatever it may be, the subsequent action to the extent of withdrawal of service by members is in the public interest because the corruption level and breaches of statutory laws have become over bearing”.

He disclosed that the meeting between NAGAFF and the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) on Monday April 11, 2017 was a mark of countdown to withdrawal of service from the Customs ports and approved border stations adding that “the inquisitive press is hereby advised that the 21-day notice is not sacrosanct. The implication is that after the 21 day notice, we may not give any other notice to withdraw our services if the situation at our ports and borders remain the same”.

While encouraging the Customs, NPA, Police, SON, NAFDAC, terminal operators and shipping companies to take up responsibility to address all issues of avoidable corruption and breaches of the port orders in a regime that abhor corruption act in Nigeria, Ezenga advised all freight forwarders to tidy their transactions and clear their goods on time to avoid being caught in the web of service withdrawal.

 

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