The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) on Sunday dissociated itself from the planned May 4 strike at the Lagos Port.
The President of NAGAFF, Mr Increase Uche, in a statement issued in Lagos, warned that any member that associated itself with the strike would be treated as a dissident by the association.
“The management of NAGAFF has been inundated with various dimensions of information to carry out a protest including withdrawal of services by some aggrieved freight forwarders at the nation’s seaports as from May 4.
“This protest according to reliable information at our disposal is in connection with the flouting of the directives given by the government authorities to shipping companies and terminal operators.
“The directive is to grant waivers on shipping container demurrage from March 30 to April 3 and storage/rent charges on all goods at the ports terminals from March 23 to April 27.
“NAGAFF wishes to dissociate itself from the said protest and to warn that any NAGAFF member who chooses to be part of the protest does not have the mandate of NAGAFF and shall be treated as a dissident by the association,” he said.
The waiver palliative was brokered by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as a succour to shippers/consignees.
The waiver was aimed at reducing the effects of the Presidential directives on the lockdown slammed on Lagos and Ogun as well as the FCT and the attendant skeletal services provided by the various parties in the maritime supply chain.
Uche said that all these were in the efforts by the government to sustain the availability of essential goods to the populace and to save the economy from total collapse.
He said that they felt and cherished the concerns of the freight forwarders who had been toiling and incurring avoidable operational risks in rendering services in obedience to the Presidential directives in keeping the ports operational as essential logistics service providers.
He added that it was in the light of the patriotic zeal already exhibited by the practitioners and the importing public that the association appealed to their teeming members and all freight forwarding and logistics service providers to remain calm.
Uche urged members to exercise restraint and give the authorities the chance to address this issue of impunity by the service providers.
“Findings have revealed that while some shipping companies and terminal operators tried to comply initially with the directives, some did not, thereby forcing the compliant ones to renege to the extent of reversing the invoices already raised in compliance with the waiver directives.
“The concerned regulatory authorities: the NSC, NPA and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) have been fully briefed with documentary evidence of the proof of the various contraventions by the shipping companies and terminal operators.
“Let me remind us that freight forwarding is a noble profession with huge reputational risks, which demands that we must exhibit professionalism in all our conduct, especially in maintaining the code of professional ethics that guides the profession.
“Protest or withdrawal of service should be the last resort when all avenues for dialogue must have been exhausted in all circumstances,’’ he said.
Uche said that NAGAFF had absolute confidence in NSC, NPA, and CRFFN in resolving the current impasse between the freight forwarders and the service providers (shipping companies and terminal operators) on the matter of the waiver palliatives.
He, therefore, urged the government agencies to activate their regulatory powers in calling the service providers to order.
“Finally, I want to assure our teeming members that NAGAFF shall not relent in its public policy advocacy dialogue in ensuring that every independent freight forwarder operates in a friendly ecosystem while carrying out his/her business at the seaports and the general supply chain.
“In the same vein, all freight forwarders are enjoined to always remember to keep safe by complying with all the guidelines in curbing the spread of the deadly scourge of the COVID 19,” he said.