APFFLON Decries Extortion By Shipping Companies, Terminal Operators
By MC Anthony Onuoha
There have been swift reactions against Shipping Companies and Terminal Operators by the African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), following what it described as mindless extortion in the guise of demurrage and other unjustifiable charges by these two maritime operators.
The issue of demurrage and handling charges being charged and collected on work free days has lingered for so long that shipping companies and Terminal operators now see it as their legal right.
In a press statement released by the Association at a press briefing in lkeja, Lagos,on Wednesday the 14th of August, 2019, the National President of the association, Otumba Frank Ogunojemite said that it was lamentable that since the concession of the ports in 2006, stakeholders, especially importers and their agents were yet to heave a sigh of relief due to poor handling of port operations and what he described as sheer greed.
Otumba Ogunojemite further stated that stakeholders were elated to see the process of ports concession work out years back, hoping that the unpalatable experiences, which importers of goods and their agents were having, which include high cost of doing business, extortion, bureaucracy, inefficiency, inadequate man-power and tools that characterised ports operations then have persisted fourteen years down the line.
APFFLON as an advocacy group condemns in strong terms the collection of rent on work free days declared by the Federal Government, saying that importers and their agents should not be made to pay a dime on such days since they never decided on their own not to take their consignments on such days.
Continuing, Otumba Ogunojemite added that since all the stakeholders observe public holidays, debiting the importers alone amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul; saying that it is even more annoying when the importer realises that such action is peculiar to sea ports, while nothing of such happens at the airports.
Meanwhile, in the statement issued to the media, the association said it believed that the actions of Shipping Companies and Terminal Operators amounts to economic sabotage and capital flight.
He stated, “Some of these anomalies and especially, the issue of extortion by these shipping companies and terminal operators (who are mainly foreigners) have persisted for so long because of the absence of efficient Ports Regulators at the time the concession was consummated in 2006.
“We appreciate the government for later saddling Nigerian Shippers Council with the responsibility but without legislative instruments to wield the big stick. We therefore, urge the government to plug the loopholes so that Nigerian Shippers Council can BARK and BITE”.
The association also called upon Nigerian Shippers Council to rise up to the occasion and save the importers and Freight Forwarders from closing shops by putting a stop to such extortion. Pointing out that the illegality was jeopardising the government’s policy on “Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria”, while beckoning Nigerian Government to beam it’s searchlight on the aviation and maritime industries, so as to check the rot in the system, in order to maximize the economic benefits and also standardize the industries with those of developed nations of the world.
At the time of the press briefing, fliers and handbills were being circulated by other APFFLON members at various ports to intimate stakeholders of their position on the issue.