By Lawani Mikairu
Cargo agents at the nation’s airports have called on the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, to review its current cargo charges downwards.
The agents who made the call at the maiden edition of CFF Cargo Conference 2022 held in Lagos, said the current high cost of clearing cargoes at the airports is reducing the volume of cargoes that come to Nigeria.
One of the panelists at the conference, Dr. Musa Sgun said the agents have been witnessing low patronage at the airports by importers as most of them now prefer to bring in their goods through neighbouring countries where charges are cheaper.
According to Sgun, ” FAAN charges for cargoes are too high. The authority should know that this will discourage importers from bringing in their goods through Nigeria’s airports. For the government to make revenue from cargo, it is volume that matters”.
” It is not high cost that will bring in more money, but volume. There is urgent need to review these charges”, he said.
Another panelist at the conference, Mr Eshiet Elihu also called on FAAN to establish closer working understanding with the airport stakeholders, like the clearing agents.
This, according to him, will facilitate better relationship. He also said charges by FAAN should constantly be reviewed to make them competitive with neighbouring airports so as to not drive away importers.
Speaking earlier, the organizer of the conference Dr. Kalu Peter said the essence of the conference is the promotion of export which is necessary for a growing economy like Nigeria economy.
Peter said ,” We are all aware of how successful economies of the world operates, and that is , higher volume of export and lower volume of import. For example, statistics as at today indicate that balance of trade in cargo in Nigeria tilts largely more towards imports than exports.”
“Available figures show that from the first Six months of 2021 the volume of cargo imported into the country via air was put at 112,949,463.51 kg while export within the same period was put at 13,592,486.12 kg ; this is an indication that the country patronizes more foreign goods without much to export in return”.
Also speaking at the conference, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu said there has not been much drop in cargo performance at the airports.
Yadudu also said that ” Despite the recent attention, the potential of cargo development may not be entirely clear to airports since cargo generally represent a limited share of airport revenue on average. Yet beyond its financial value, air freight has a strategic value to airports as it is key to its customers and stakeholders, namely, airlines, ground handlers, freight forwarders, etc”.