By Kenneth Jukpor
Freight agents practicing at Nigerian seaports have urged the Federal Government to mandate shipping lines to pay interests on delayed container deposits, accusing the shipping companies of trading with their monies.
The Vice President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto made this call when the new Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Hon. Emmanuel Jime had a maiden engagement with freight forwarding groups at the NSC headquarters in Lagos, last week.
Farinto also urged the new Executive Secretary not to step on the banana peels in the course of his administration, noting that the politics of freight forwarding associations was one of such issues.
The veteran freight forwarder stated that there is a dire need to reduce the cost of doing business at the ports and opined that trade facilitation isn’t obtainable in the nation’s maritime sector.
Earlier, Hon. Emmanuel Jime has assured that the Council would prioritize the economic interest of freight forwarders and eliminate the fiscal burdens in the ongoing concession agreement review for terminal operators.
The NSC Executive Secretary also described the attainment of the National Transport Commission (NTC) as one of his prime targets for the maritime and transport sector.
According to him, NTC could be a game changer in the nation’s transport sector and it is one of the most important legacies he would like to bring to fruition under his leadership with the support of strategic partners like freight forwarders.
While interacting with the leadership of various freight forwarding associations, Jime commended the groups for their contribution to the maritime industry’s growth and sustainability over the years and specially appreciated their efforts in areas such as; the NTC bill, Vehicle Transit Areas (VTAs), Inland Dry Ports, among others.
The meeting had in attendance the leaderships of the various freight forwarding associations including the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders Nigeria (AREFFN), the Nigerian Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC) as well as the African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON).
Jime acknowledged that it was partly due to the strong support and advocacy of freight forwarders that the Council’s mandate was expanded to include the role of port economic regulator.
He, however, encouraged the various groups to eschew rivalry and encourage unity, even as he stressed the need for freight forwarders to consolidate and have mega groups.
Noting that there will be enormous logistics opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Jime urged freight forwarders to develop an interest in AfCFTA and begin to explore the opportunities.
The President of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Otunba Frank Ogunojemite while welcoming the new NSC boss, urged him to take steps to ensure that the Shippers’ Council was represented in the ongoing review of the concession agreement with the terminal operators, to avoid the previous mistakes had consequences in port operations.
Otunba recalled that some shipping companies and terminal operators didn’t obey the directive of the federal government to waive monies that accrued as demurrage during the lockdown period occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, urging the new NSC boss to prevent such disregard for regulation by those large companies.
The APFFLON President also observed that some terminals have introduced arbitrary charges and encouraged NSC to address this, as well as managing the rivalry among the government agencies operating at the nation’s seaport which has stalled the development of a National Single Window and hindered automation in the sector.