By DAPO OLAWUNI
In order to prevent her members from catching the dreaded Corona Virus desease, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has shut down its national secretariat in Festac Town, Amuwo Odofin Lagos in compliance with the Federal Government’s “stay at home” order.
This is even as the former president of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr. Eugene Nweke has accused the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) of keeping quiet in face of the Corona Virus, thereby subjecting the life of freight forwarders to a great risk.
In a statement signed by ANLCA President, Hon Tony Iju Nwabunike on Tuesday, the association educated its members on necessary precautions in order not to contract the dreaded plague, even as he expressed optimism that the virus would be defeated soon.
He said that with the Federal Government shutting down the nation’s borders, the schools, key agencies and other apparatus, it is apparent that activities at the port will also be scaled down to an all time low.
The message addressed to ANLCA members read “Your National President and entire NECOM members do care about you and your entire family members. All our professional colleagues are very important and dear to us. Let’s show love to ourselves by staying safe and coming out victorious”
“Consequently, the National Secretariat will by 12 noon today the 24/03/2020 be shut down till further notice”
“Please, stay at home with your families. Avoid gatherings of any sort.
It is my prayers that the Almighty Father will spare us and the lives of our family members”
In an earlier release, the immediate past National President of NAGAFF, Dr. Eugene Nweke warned that the federal government should not risk the life of Nigerian freight forwarders, all in their bid to generate revenue.
Eugene commended the NAGAFF headquarters for taking the bold initiative to direct its members to maintain social distancing by staying off work for 14 days.
He expressed shock at the rate at which freight forwarders still troop out in large numbers to the port, despite warnings by the federal government for Nigerians to maintain social distancing in order to avoid contracting Corona Virus.
He argued that the CRFFN as an agency of the government is expected to show leadership in this direction, adding that the health and wellness interest of the Freight Forwarders must be paramount.
He said “A Forwarder can hardly seat at home, as he can not transact effectively online, how much more delivering his container online, because the system is skewed against e-commerce”
“In view of this , a Forwarder will always be in the port irrespective of directives , not really that he desires of so, but because the system is not structured to soothe his operations, so, except the ports, Customs offices and Shipping lines are close for business, he is under the pressure and mindful not to incurre additional or excessive storage and demurrage charges, especially where there is no official pronouncement of operational break or holidays”
“The implications is that, a Forwarder is merely exposed and risks contacting Covid -19 , as they feels that no one seems to consider his plight”
“The Relevance agencies are expected to have met, and thinker out a new operational approach/modalities to mitigate human contacts, where it becomes difficult to close the ports to external operational activities, while receiving cargo inflows”