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Agents issue fresh two weeks notice on service withdrawal as shipping lines shun peace meeting. 

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Segun Oladipupo

Shipping line agencies in Nigeria on Friday defied orders of the minister of Transportation by failing to show up for a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the ministry in Lagos.

The meeting was basically to address myriads of complaints against the shipping lines by freight forwarders and Customs brokers.

As a result, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) 100 percent compliance team has issued another two weeks notice for the shipping lines to appear at the meeting or the freight forwarders commence a total withdrawal of service.

Recall that the team in association with other freight agents had issued a threat of service withdrawal over illegal charges by the operators.

The meeting which had in attendance, top players in the industry including Registrar of the CRFFN, representative of NPA and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, expressed disappointment for the failure of the shipping lines operators to be present at the meeting.

The associations present at the meeting include;  National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarding (NAGAFF) , Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) NAFFAC, AREFFN and NCMDLCA.

Speaking shortly after a closed door meeting, held in Apapa , Coordinator of the 100 Compliance Task Team of NAGAFF, an enforcement arm of the association, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko said there is an existing power tussle between the Nigeria Shippers Council and CRFFN.

Tanko further expressed displeasure over the way and manner the regulatory agencies of the maritime industry addressed the issues due to the absence of the shipping line agencies.

Tanko said that the freight forwarders are giving two weeks grace to the regulators, starting from Monday in order to resolve the challenges or else the freight forwarders would embark on total withdrawal of service.

The NAGAFF boss said: “I am not happy with today’s meeting because nobody is ready to answer our pains, you can imagine the Registrar of CRFFN inviting the Shipping Companies and none of them showed up.

He said “We also notice that there is power tussle between CRFFN and the Shippers Council, if there is no power tussle, while would the Shippers Council invite us for meeting on Friday, and CRFFN invited us for meeting on same day?

“I sent some of our members to represent us at the meeting with Shippers Council and the response there is the same thing we are getting here that we should suspend our action. The Shippers Council said they would investigate our allegations and get back to us on Monday. Here, the CRFFN said they would look into it, without any date”

“We accepted to step down our strike action based on respect for our regulators, pending when we would hear from them”

Earlier, Registrar of CRFFN, Barr Samuel Nwakohu who read out the communique  of the meeting, urged the freight forwarders to suspend their withdrawal of services, pending further investigation.

Speaking with journalists, he said “The freight forwarders wrote to the Minister of Transportation through my office and copied me, they made certain complaints and threatened to withdraw their services”

“You know that economic activities at our ports are important to revenue generation for the country, outside the oil, port activities are essential services, so the country cannot afford any disruption in its economic activities”

“Against this backdrop, we invited all the stakeholders, the NPA, Shippers Council, CRFFN, the complainants, and the shipping companies for us to address the issues”

“Unfortunately, the shipping companies are not here today, but I didn’t want that to stop any preliminary discussions, this was why we considered issues raised from the freight forwarders point of view. We would still have the opportunity to consider the issues from the point of view of the shipping companies”

The CRFFN Registrar assured that there would be subsequent engagements on the matter. He however said it is not his prerogative to ensure the shipping companies attend the next meeting.

“The Shippers Council or the NPA are in charge of the shipping companies and should be responsible for them showing up for the next meeting” he said.

© 2021, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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