…Order it’s Members to Resume Work
By Dapo Olawuni
The Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has dissociated itself from the current strike action going on at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos over the tariff increment initiated by the Aviation handling companies namely: the Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) and the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO)
Recall that since 25th of April, cargoes have been stranded at the airport because freight forwarding associations including; Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and the National Association of Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC) directed their members to stop work.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos on Thursday, the Chairman of APFFLON, MMIA chapter, Mr. Victor Akorede acknowledged that APFFLON as an association was not against the recent increase in tariff by the Aviation handling companies adding that those kicking against the new tariff regime were only being hypocritical.
In order to avoid a violent clash at the airport, he warned ANLCA, NAGAFF, and NAFFAC not to challenge any of it’s members inside the cargo shed as they have been directed by the association to resume work immediately.
According to him, the freight forwarding associations had signed agreement on paper supporting the 100% hike in tariff by NAHCO and SAHCOL. He however said that due to the internal crisis in ANLCA, another faction came forward to truncate all the agreements and other freight forwarders cannot be subjected to the whims and caprices of ANLCA.
Mr. Akorede observed that APFFLON, as an advocate of Ease of Doing Business internationally did not see anything insensitive about the newly introduced tariff regime even as he insisted that those threatening to withdraw their services should also bear in mind that Aviation handling companies were not government companies and being affected by the harsh economy situation as well, they were at liberty to fashion out ways to remain in business.
He added that the companies had staff in their employ and as public liability companies, they as well, had shareholders who were entitled to return on investment.
According to him, “We are all aware of the setback and havock wrecked on international businesses by Covid-19 and cargo handling companies were not excluded. Today, prices of passengers tickets across airlines have increased to over 300 percent, yet nobody or group is coming out to protest against the development.
“The continued plunging of Naira against the USD and other world currencies is causing serious inflation which is adversely affecting businesses as well. Price comparison with other African countries as regards cargo handling charges is almost at par or a bit higher than that of our indigenous companies.”
The Chairman recalled that in 2019, APFFLON went to court seeking to stop the same increment because it saw no genuine reason behind it rather than a move inspired by greed as the aim was to extort Nigerians. “We did not find the increment justifiable and that informed our filing a lawsuit against the cargo handling companies”, he said.
“Indeed, APFFLON is amazed that despite several engagements and agreement with handlers, they can still allow thier internal wrangling to affect their decisions. And we need to ask, why have our sister associations been unable to find their voices even as the Federal Government continues to slam fresh levies on imported vehicles as well as the prolonged stay of the controversial Customs Service Provider, Messrs.Webb Fontaine? Why have they not been bold enough to protest?
“It is indeed disturbing not seeing the leadership of these associations stand up to condemn multiple taxation on imported vehicles and sundry products by the Federal and state governments. We believe strongly that they are also aware of the V-REG and the new levy called Temporary Vehicle Tag (TVT) slammed on all imported vehicles coming out of Lagos ports by the Lagos State Government; and none of them has come out to condemn the new levy except Chief Dr. Eugene Nweke. APFFLON as a group will not be part of those kicking against the Aviation handling companies’ new tariff regime, we see the agitation as hypocritical.
“Our sister associations are being insensitive to the plights of the cargo handlers as well, because on one or two occasions, some of the staff of one of the companies went on strike over poor working condition which was a clear indication that the harsh government policies and galloping inflation also affect them as it affects individuals and private enterprises.
“APFFLON understands the current economic situation which is informed by the galloping inflation that keeps dealing a dazing blow on entrepreneurs and corporate organizations, we must commend the handling companies for downward review of the initial 100 percent increase to 75 percent. It shows that they are sensitive to the plight of their customers”, he further stated.
While advising other freight forwarding associations to be alive to their responsibilities as they owe freight forwarders, the port industry and Nigerians a lot especially in a time like this when multiple taxation and inflation were emasculating businesses, he lamented the skyrocketing market prices of household items which according to him, was grossly affecting the live and livelihood of the common man.
“We call upon the leaderships of sister associations to always stand up in one voice against unfriendly policies, not only when they do not favour them.
“We want to assure the Aviation community and the general public that our members will continue to render services to clients as professionals and law abiding citizens and we also want to use this medium to appreciate the security agencies especially the Nigeria Police Force for ensuring peace and security as always”, he concluded.