Group writes Osinbajo over plan to introduce use of Form M, PAAR at the Airport.

Segun Oladipupo

Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has written to the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo to intervene in the planned introduction of form M and PAAR in clearance process at the airport.

The group through its National President, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, enjoined the Vice President to consider the economic dangers such new platform would pose in the sector.

Otunba Ogunojemite said, “The Customs, perhaps on the directive of the Federal Ministry of Finance, has concluded plans to stop the current system which is a faster process known as Procedure Code 4900. Customs engaged freight agents at the airports on this development at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) on Friday, last week.

“While the Finance Ministry may have genuine reasons for this decision, APFFLON states that the introduction of PAAR at Airports would lead to gruesome DELAYS for CARGOES that are TIMELY and EXORBITANT DEMURRAGE CHARGES resulting from the delays.

“Airport consignments are mostly medical equipment, crucial production materials for manufacturers, essential raw materials as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) materials to combat COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

“Unlike the seaports, these air cargoes can’t afford the luxury of time to undergo the bureaucracy of ‘Form M’ and PAAR at the airports.

“Air freight forwarders also face the challenge of exorbitant charges as storage to the ground handling companies with the introduction of ‘Form M’ and PAAR and the consequent delays.

The President stated further that “The air cargo sector is already overburdened having being made to pay charges for storage of consignments to ground handling companies as Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) insisted on demurrage charges for goods uncleared as well as consignments which arrived during the lockdown.

He told the Vice President that the ground handling companies slammed demurrage on cargoes that came to the port during the lockdown period.

“Freight agents were unable to access the airports to clear the cargoes as they complied with the Federal Government stay home order for more than one month, yet when we resumed, the ground handling companies still demanded charges for the lockdown period.

“Your Excellency, let us also draw your attention to the fact that both companies also recently increased their charges arbitrarily by 40%, a decision which saw APFFLON drag NAHCO and SAHCO to the Federal High Court, Lagos and the matter is still pending.

“Given the disposition of NAHCO and SAHCO to increase their charges frivolously, the nation, particularly those operating at the airports and dependents on such services, would suffer colossal charges and delays if the Form M and PAAR is allowed to prevail at the airports by the end of June 2020.

“Since aviation consignments are timely, light and essential, we implore you to kindly use your good office to persuade the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Service to jettison plans to introduce this fiscal policy that would be detrimental to Nigerians.

The group, while commending the federal government’s efforts at curtailing the spread of covid 19, made the following recommendations.

“Review and streamline challenges with the Code 4900 platform,
Engage stakeholders, particularly freight forwarders on the need to comply with the expeditious 4900 system

“Sir, let us also use this medium to assure the Federal Government of Nigeria that APFFLON and all members across the country will support the government and all its agencies in the airports to make sure government achieve its objectives in terms of revenue generation, safety, trade facilitation, among others” he submitted.

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