Freight agents under the aegis of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics on Nigeria (APFFLON) have written to the Senate President to lament ground handling companies’ demurrage charges for the lockdown period.
The letter titled; “Flagrant Disobedience of Federal Government Directives on Lockdown”, accused the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) of disregarding Federal Government lockdown directives.
“The two bodies have been operating and they are informing people whose consignments are with them to come forward to pay rent for the period when there was lockdown. When there was no operation as a result of lockdown, what brings about the issue of demurrage?” the letter read.
The Association noted that the companies caved in to pressure from industry stakeholders to peg the charges at 20 percent; however, it maintained that there was no basis for such demurrage charges.
“Port users are not comfortable with the disrespect of the Federal Government directive. It is also our belief that the government through the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika should wield the big stick and sanction the ground handling companies,” APFFLON said.
The letter signed by the National President, APFFLON, Mr. Frank Ogunojemite also lampooned both companies for subjecting air freight forwarders to economic woes with recent arbitrary increase in their fares by 70 percent.
“Even as the matter is still in court, the two companies came down to 40 percent and implemented same, contrary to the avowed belief that when a matter is sub-judicial, all forms of self-help should cease,” Ogunojemite queried.
The association beckoned on the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to intervene and resolve the crisis.
The freight forwarding group also copied this letter to the House of Representatives, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), CRFFN, Ministry of Aviation, FAAN, NCAA, NAHCO and SAHCO.
NAHCO Plc and SAHCO, however, insist that payment for demurrage charges for the period under lockdown would not be completely waived as there wasn’t any directive from the government indicating any financial exchange or storage waiver in the aviation sector.
The companies stressed that they have slashed the charges by 80 percent as part of efforts to support businesses and the industry operators amid the economic pangs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.