There is an ongoing crisis at the cargo handling shed of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) as ground handling companies battle over consignments which arrived via Ethopian airlines at 1pm today.
The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc seized cargoes of Ethiopian Airlines Cargo and Mail Services, insisting that it has a legal contract empowering it to handle the Airline’s cargoes for three years signed in October 2018.
Previously, Ethiopian Airline cargoes were handled by Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) who also have a running contract for the business signed last year.
Freight agents have been thrown into quagmire as NAHCO seized the consignment while SAHCO have the documents required for clearing the cargoes.
Speaking with MMS Plus newspaper, the President of African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics in Nigeria (APFFLON), Mr. Frank Ogunojemite lamented freight forwarders may also lose their clients and pay demurrages following this development.
“Most people send their goods by air because of the speedy delivery. These importers may not be able to meet the timelines of their suppliers and they might lose their contracts apart from the demurrage. Freight forwarders who have been caught in this crisis may also lose their clients because they would be perceived as being inefficient for shortcomings beyond them”
“The consignments are still with NAHCO and it doesn’t look like this matter would be addressed today. NAHCO is demanding that they would retrieve all the monies they lost when SAHCO was handling the cargoes. Why should such multinational company flout the rule of law by going into contracts with two companies for the same service” he said.
He also lampooned the ground handling companies, describing them as being hasty to unite in their bid to increase charges yet they couldn’t do proper investigation before signing contracts.
“I’m shocked that this kind of misnormer can happen. They both have legal departments, so who signed these contracts? This has shutdown the business activities at the airports and we don’t know when this would be resolved.” Ogunojemite added.
A statement by Mr. Tayo Ogunbanjo, the Head, Legal Services, NAHCO yesterday said that the development was based on the provisions of the Standard Ground Agreement Service (SGHA) signed on October 1, 2018 between the two companies.
Ogunbanjo stated that the current SGHA agreement between NAHCO and Ethiopian Airlines is for three years.
He said, “Ethiopian Airlines should ideally not have two contracts running on the same cargo handling business. Since we have an existing and bidding contract, we are simply exercising our right as stipulated in that contract.”
Giving reasons why this is happening now, Ogunbanjo, said: “on assumption of office recently, I came across this oversight while going through the company’s obligations and contracts. As a law abiding and corporately responsible entity we choose to deal on the right side of existing and extant laws and contracts.”
When contacted, the Managing Director of SAHCO, Mr. Basil Agboarunmi told our correspondent that Ethiopian Airline should be in a better position to respond on the conflict.
“As very law abiding corporate organization, SAHCO respects regulations and contracts signed with our clients and all stakeholders,” he posited.