Clearing agents at the nation’s airports have called on the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika to intervene on the demand for storage charges during the Federal Government-ordered lockdown period by Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, (NAHCO), PLC and Skyway Aviation Handling Company, (SAHCO).
Speaking to newsmen, the President of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics on Nigeria, (APFFLON), Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, accused NAHCO and SAHCO, for demanding for storage charges during the Federal Government-ordered lockdown period.
The APFFLON 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 SAHCO had slammed demurrage charges on goods uncleared as well as consignments which arrived during the lockdown.
Ogunojemite further accused the two companies for non-compliance with the Federal Government order for their selfish reasons, saying that their decision succeeded in sparking off avoidable protest that resulted to the assemblage of weird crowd of protesters thereby violating the social distancing order which is one of the prioritized measures of curbing the spread of virus.
His words, “Above all, 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, Ogunojemite said the importers and freight agents have to obey the President’s directive to stay at home, therefore ground handling companies should waive storage charges for the period.
He said, “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. As a result of this crisis no business activity has taken place at SAHCO or NAHCO.
“I see this as an act of irresponsibility and wickedness on the part of ground handling companies, because they could work out a rebate with Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.”
He went ahead to say that the protest wouldn’t have been considered in the first place had it been the cargo handling companies did not come up with such callous decision.
He went further to accuse NAHCO and SAHCOL of creating artificial monopoly in cargo handling business thereby making cargo clearing business very difficult for agents, adding that, for the fact that agents have no other choice than to patronize either of the two companies, now made them to hinge on that to punish them at their whims and caprices.
The National President of APPFLON hinted the press on the measures his Association has taken so far 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 this lingering issue, he vehemently kicked against such exploitation saying that the rash decision taken by the duo will not stand, insisting that agents are not supposed to pay such imposed rents.
However, APPFLON advised the 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 port by the Federal Government for same waiver from Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA).
He pointed out that since President Buhari’s directive suspending airport operations, there has not been any other circular or statement directing airports to reopen. questioning the possibility of freight forwarders to have gone for the clearing of these cargoes, without such instructions.
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