PORT PROTEST: Freight Forwarders Lobby Dockworkers to Join Strike
…As Protest Enters Day-2, Spreads to Apapa Port, KLT Terminals
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The strike action embarked upon by freight forwarders at Tin Can Island Port and PTML Terminal on Monday has entered the second day, even as some of the agents are calling on Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to join the strike action in order to make it a total shutdown of Port activities.
The protest is also spreading on Tuesday to Apapa premier port and the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) in Apapa.
DAILY TREND NEWS reported on Monday that activities at Nigerian Ports were shutdown by a coalition of freight forwarding associations operating at the port.
They were expressing their grievances against the newly introduced Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Valuation, a policy that was introduced by the Nigeria Customs Service in January 2022.
The freight forwarders complained about the flaws in the new customs valuation system, saying that there was no consideration for rebate and depreciation value in the valuation being issued on imported cars, adding that payble duties on imported cars have skyrocketed by more than 300percent.
Speaking with our correspondent at the venue of the protest on Monday, Taskforce chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Tin Can Port Chapter, Alhaji Rilwan Amuni, popularly known as “June 12” said the VIN Valuation policy of the customs is hindering trade facilitation at the port.
He said that the demand of the freight forwarders is for customs to go back to statusquo, give the stakeholders time, so that they can perfect their system.
“The genesis of the protest is from the VIN Valuation introduced by the Nigeria Customs Service. It was designed for us to have less interface with officers, if you input the information of your vehicle, it gives you the value to be paid electronically
“We embrace the policy, but the implementation is too bad, for example, maybe a Mazda 2007 vehicle that you are paying N250,000 as value before now, when you input now, it brings brings payment value of N2million, how much is the vehicle?
“The policy is affecting the agents and even Nigerian economy as a whole.
“This protest is being upheld by coalition of all five freight forwarding associations in the port.
“The customs have refused to listen to our leaders, so the youths have no choice than to come out.
“The policy is hindering trade facilitation, what we want is for customs to go back to statusquo, they should give us some time, so that they can perfect their system.
We are hoping the system would be suspended, anytime they tell us this, we would go back to work.
We are not worried about the demurrage and storage for now, let’s solve this VIN Valuation policy first before we face the shipping companies and terminal operators” Amuni stated
Throughout the peaceful protest on Monday, DAILY TREND NEWS correspondent who was on ground, noticed the presence of security operatives including the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) port security officials, Nigerian Police, DSS among others.
Also speaking with our correspondent, Mr Rotimi Azeez, popularly known as Bana, urged the Federal government to borrow a leaf from the Cotonou Port where value of imported vehicles was recently slashed down.
While lamenting the VIN Valuation, he said “A car that we pay N250,000 as value in 2010, when you input same car today, it gives you N1million, and these are tokunbo vehicle.
“We are not saying VIN Valuation I bad, but let government input the right thing.
“Cotonou port have reduced value of imported cars, are they better than Nigeria? People are diverting imports to Cotonou port but we are not doing that, government should appreciate us
“I pay tax all the time, 5 corpers working under my company with numerous staff, I pay them, government is not paying us” he said
Meanwhile the agents are now appealing to the maritime labour union to join in the strike action to make it total.
Mr Remilekun Saliu Sikiru, one of the Youth Representatives of freight practitioners at Tin Can Island Port on one of the association platforms, pleaded with association leaders to meet with leadership of MWUN for them to join the strike action.
In his advise, he said “In other to ensure we have a strong and concrete protest that will shut the entire port 100%, all the heads and executives of all the association under this freight forwarding and customs broker should have a meeting, they should carry the labour force along to shutdown the port
“It will be effective and quote me, the Federal Government will yield with immediate effect” he said