Allow NPA, NSC to handle storage, demurrage waivers, NAGAFF tells members

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The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has advised its members to allow the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to mitigate in the issue of demurrage and storage waivers currently causing hiccups in the port.

A section of Customs brokers have threatened to embark on a protest and down tools on Monday, after shipping companies and terminal operators were reported to disobey a directive of the NPA to waive demurrage and port charges during the period of lockdown in Lagos.

Uche Increase, national president of NAGAFF, cautioned in a statement on Sunday that any NAGAFF member who chose to be part of the protest did not have the mandate of NAGAFF and shall be treated as a dissident by the association.

According to him, the waivers on shipping container demurrage from March 30 to May 3, 2020 and storage/rent charges on all goods at the ports terminals from March 23, 2020 to April 27, 2020 was a directive of the government agencies and the agencies should be allowed to handle the matter.

He said, “The waivers were a sort of palliatives brokered by the NSC and NPA as a succor to shippers/consignees in order to reduce the effects of the presidential directives on the lockdowns slammed on Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and the attendant skeletal services provided by the various parties in the maritime supply chain, at the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“NAGAFF wishes to dissociate its self 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.

 “We also feel and cherish the concerns of the freight forwarders who have been toiling all these period, and incurring avoidable operational risks in rendering services in obedience to the Presidential directives in keeping the ports operational as essential logistics service providers.

“It is in the light of the above patriotic zeal already exhibited by the practitioners and the importing public that we hereby appeal to our teeming members and all freight forwarding and logistics service providers to remain calm, exercise restraint and give the authorities the chance to address this issue of impunity by the service providers and most importantly, to avoid further worsening the precarious situation and myriads of challenges in the general economy which the federal government has been struggling to reposition.”

According to him, the concerned regulatory authorities viz; the NSC, NPA and the CRFFN have been fully briefed with documentary evidences of the proof of the various contraventions by the shipping companies and terminal operators and issued a follow-up orders to the obstinate service providers with severe threat to impose sanctions on the erring ones.

“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 conducts 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. Additionally, we should realize that the immediate beneficiaries of the waiver palliatives are the shippers/consignees and not the freight forwarders. While we tried to protect them as our customers in our bid to preserve our clienteles, we should not lose sight of the grave consequences of disrupting the free flow of ports’ operation at this critical time where angry hoodlums could hijack the situation.

“NAGAFF has 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 matters of the waiver palliatives. We therefore, urge them to activate their regulatory powers in calling the service providers to order,” he concluded.

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