Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko
… As NAGAFF mulls 14-day demurrage-free period for Containers***
Talks between freight forwarders and representatives of shipping companies on Friday, ended in a stalemate as the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) seeks for 14-day demurrage-free period for containers.
The National Coordinator of the NAGAFF 100 Percent Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, told journalists after the meeting to address the impasse failed to achieve peaceful goal.
The meeting had in attendance the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Shippers’Council (NSC), Council for the Regulating of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN) and representative of shipping companies.
It would be recalled that freight forwarders recently threatened to withdraw their services from the nation’s seaports due to extortion and high handedness by shipping companies.
In the eyes of the public, the foreign shipping giants are daily milking the poor Nigerian Shippers and the freight forwarders were only doing their best to save Nigerian economy from further abuse and soaring inflation.
Iju Tony Nwabunike
ANLCA National President
“The issue of withdrawal of service is still pending because there is no concrete agreement reached and our position still stands, we will withdraw from service on Nov.18 if nothing is done.
“On the container deposit issue, we lose a lot of money, N200,000 on 40ft container and N100,000 on 20ft container, and after losing this money, the shipping companies also debit us and they still receive their empty containers back.
“We are saying no to this. Our request is that the shipping companies should give us extra 14 days from the day the container leaves the port till it is brought back, if we pass 14 days, then they can now charge us.
“This is our proposal and they said no to that,” Tanko said.
He said that the representatives from the shipping companies agreed to wave six days but the problem was that they should be specific on when they want to start counting the waiver.
Tanko pointed out that they still had confidence with the three regulators present, NPA, Shippers’ Council and the CRFFN because they must have a solution to this problem, as they represent the government.
He disclosed that the body language of the representative of the shipping company was not too good and showed no commitment.
The Founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr. Boniface Aniebonam.
“Though we raised that issue, he adjusted and said that he will communicate with others and whatsoever is agreed on will be communicated to others,” he said.
The freight forwarders also blamed the Government’s representatives, particularly the NPA for culpability, hinting that the Authority was actually not doing enough.
Tanko said that he was shocked when the NPA representative said that the authority issued shipping companies licenses for holding bay.
“We believe holding bay is supposed to come from shipping companies and that is what the law says, anybody that is running a shipping company must have a holding bay, but we do not know what is going on now.
“Our position now is that the issue is not from freight forwarders and so they should stop collecting this money from us,” he said.
Tanko noted that the five accredited associations in the industry had agreed to work together to achieve the desired result.
“There should be no more division because people are enjoying on that division, especially between the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and NAGAFF, the major association.
“There are some groups of people that do not like this unity because of their personal interest.
“It is better for us to come together than being divided. We need to come together so that we can fight our course,” he said.
The public is gradually enlightened that the current ‘bleeding’ is likely to get truncated if all the nation’s freight forwarders could co-ordinate and collaborate more, to speak with one voice, no matter the level of foreign operator’s initial resistance.
In the freight forwarder’s view, a body collecting free money that daily runs into several millions would not willingly stop, except the force of opposition overrides the degree of initial resistance.