Aviation Minister To Decide On Ground Handling Charges For Lockdown

  • Don’t allow aviation to fail, IATA charges Nigeria
    Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika

    CRFFN calls for patience, APFFLON anticipates more controversy

By Kenneth Jukpor

Freight forwarders operating in the aviation sector and ground handling companies await the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika’s decision on demurrage charges for the lockdown period, this week.

The lingering crisis at the cargo section of Lagos airports has seen activities of the two ground handling companies, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO Aviance) and Skyway Aviation Handling Company PLC (SAHCO) suspended since the lockdown was relaxed.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, Musa Hassan revealed this at the weekend even as he noted that SAHCO made a commendable reduction.

“SAHCO even offered some discounts, substantial discounts. Tomorrow (Saturday) there will be another discounts on the same issue. This is the most updated information I just got. So hopefully in the next few days we should be able to resolve it finally,” he said.

Noting that the demurrage charged at the airports are paid directly to the two major handlers, SAHCO and NAHCO Aviance, he said; “We have been in discussion with NAHCO and SAHCO since this one is not paid to FAAN but to the concessionaires at the airport.”

Meanwhile, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has urged freight forwarders to exercise patience as the demurrage concerns have been escalated to the Aviation Minister.

The Registrar of CRFFN, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu made this plea during an exclusive chat with MMS Plus newspaper at the weekend.

His words; “I have looked at the entire structure and I sympathize with the freight forwarders and at the same time I sympathize with the ground handling companies. I have approached FAAN on this issue and they are looking into it.”

“After speaking with FAAN leadership, they made me understand this has been escalated to the Minister and they are waiting. We should be a bit patient. That is FAAN’s position.”

Noting that FAAN would need approval from the Aviation Minister before granting commensurate waivers to NAHCO and SAHCO for the demurrages, Nwakohu added, “On Tuesday (tomorrow), I am having a meeting with the FAAN, Customs and the handling companies about this to ensure work resumes again at the cargo port.”

SAHCO, however, announced 80 percent waivers on all consignments which arrived during the lockdown.

The company revealed this in a letter titled: “RE:C0VID-19 Demurrage Waiver Request”, sent to freight forwarding agents signed by the Assistant General Manager, Cargo Services, SAHCO, Mr. Olajide Kafidipe.

“I have been directed to communicate to ANLCA executives that SAHCO Plc management has magnanimously granted 80% demurrage waiver on all shipment received into the warehouse between March 30th, 2020 to May 15th, 2020 as a gesture of goodwill to our customers and a means of support to the Federal Government and the Nigerian people as we battle the harsh economic reality that the pandemic has brought on us all,” the letter read.

Meanwhile, the President, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Mr. Frank Ogunojemite insists that freight agents deserve zero waivers for the lockdown period.

Ogunojemite also noted that the lingering conflict could see ground handling companies demand demurrages for the period after the lockdown.

“This issue requires emergency response. It should have been addressed withing few hours or days. We don’t want a situation where these handling companies will waive the lockdown and charge demurrages for this long period used to address the conflict,” Ogunojemite said.

He urged the Minister of Aviation to respond speedily to enable operators take delivery of their goods which have been at the cargo shed for almost two months.

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