By Godfrey Bivbere
THE Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria, APFFLON, have kicked against charges demanded by aviation cargo handling companies during the period of lock-down ordered by the Federal Government.
The President of APFFLON, Frank Ogunojemite, while expressing the association’s displeasure, called on the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to intervene.
Ogunojemite explained that the demand is being made by the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, NAHCO, Plc; and Skyway Aviation Handling Company, SAHCOL.
He alleged that after observing the one-month lockdown to curb the COVID-19 pandemic in Lagos, freight forwarders resumed at the airports on Monday, May 4, only to find out that NAHCO and SAHCOL had slammed demurrage charges on goods uncleared as well as consignments which arrived during the lockdown.
He further accused the two companies of non-compliance with the Federal Government order on lockdown concessions saying that their decision had sparked off avoidable protests.
His words: “APFFLON, on behalf of all freight forwarders, beckoned on the Federal Government, the minister of aviation, minister of transportation, and concerned stakeholders to urgently intervene and save Nigerians from being exploited by the duo of SAHCOL and NAHCO.”
APFFLON boss said the importers and freight agents had to obey the government’s directive to stay at home; therefore, ground handling companies should waive storage charges for the period.
“Is it the fault of importers and freight agents that there was a lockdown? How can these companies charge us for the lockdown period? We expect 100 percent storage-free period and nothing less,” he added.
He also accused NAHCO and SAHCOL of creating artificial monopoly in cargo handling business thereby making cargo clearing very difficult for agents, adding that since the agents have no other choice than to patronise either of the two companies, the cargo companies are now making life difficult for the freight forwarders.
He hinted that his association has taken steps to draw the attention of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, being the nation’s ports economic regulator, and Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding practice in Nigeria, CRFFN, to the lingering issue.
However, APPFLON advised the cargo handling companies to work out a rebate with Federal Airport Authority, FAAN, by tendering a proof of the consignments they gave waivers to in order to get similar compensation that will be given to shipping companies and terminal operators at sea ports by the Federal Government for demurrage waivers.