APFFLON Warns Shipping Companies, Terminals Against Arbitrary Charges
As business activities resume fully today across Lagos State, the Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics (APFFLON) has admonished shipping companies and terminals not to demand charges for the past week.
Recall that business activities across the state were halted abruptly by wide protests by youths as a result of the EndSARS movement which was later hijacked by hoodlums, leading to the burning of several police stations, hotels and port related assets like the headquarters of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Speaking with MMS Plus at the weekend, the President of APFFLON, Mr. Frank Ogunojemite stressed that freight forwarders complied with the curfew subsequently ordered by the Lagos State Government, hence, it would be irrational to have shipping companies and terminals exploit the saga to collect additional demurrage and storage charges.
The APFFLON boss encouraged Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to be proactive in initiating talks with the shipping companies and terminals to prevent another fracas emanating from the fiscal burden at the ports.
Ogunojemite also stressed that similar waivers should be accorded freight forwarders at the airports, lamenting that the ground handling companies; Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO Aviance) and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) haven’t shown such considerations to their business partners in the past.
According to him, the EndSARS protests should spur the government regulatory agencies to eschew sharp practices which make port business too cumbersome and expensive for freight forwarding practitioners and other port users.
“It is time to learn from these protests that emerged from EndSARS. At Nigerian ports, it is time to stop the multiple Customs units which simply is an additional cost and a sort of extortion. It is time for transparency on the part of shipping companies and terminals which regards their propensity to demand arbitrary charges as well as colossal sums as demmurages and storage charges. This is the time for the regulatory agencies like NPA, Shippers’ Council, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), among others to collaborate and work towards addressing the many ills in the port sector,” he said.
He also sympathized with NPA which had its headquarters in Lagos burnt last week during the EndSARS protests.
Speaking on the curfew in Lagos State which has been adjusted to commence by 6pm, the veteran freight forwarder posited that there would be a need to grant the port sector waivers as freight forwarders and port workers should be prioritized as essential service providers and exempted from the curfew.
To achieve this, he called beckoned on Shippers’ Council to engage the Lagos State government on the curfew arrangement for the port sector.
“If the curfew is binding on the port sector, it would mean that port workers would have to close earlier probably by 3pm to get home before 6pm. This would be bad for freight forwarders and other port users because it would limit the duration of cargo clearance at the ports and increase opportunities for more storage charges and demurrages,” he added.