By Omobayo Azeez
Courier services operators under the aegis of Association of Nigeria Courier Operators (ANCO) has expressed dissatisfaction with their inclusion by the federal government in the ordered lockdown currently being observed in the country.
The federal and state governments have ordered complete and partial lockdown in some parts of the country as measures to control the swift spread of Coronavirus pandemic in the country, forcing operators across different sectors to shut down their operations.
According to Okey Ubah, ANCO national president, the courier services industry is among the few critical ones that should be exempted from the lockdown.
Ubah told business A.M via a telephone interview that, “The situation in the industry is not different from what is happening generally. There was no serious consideration of exemption when the government made the pronouncement.
“Government gave exemption to the communications industry, looking at only the segment of wireless communication not knowing that courier too is also communication, though ground communication.
“However, we believe that everything done is just ad hoc. They only rushed to set up a committee and then came with the modalities. There was no clear cut definition of the courier industry but I believe in time, they will review it and then put ground communication which is the courier and logistics industry into consideration.”
Ubah further stated that operators of courier and logistics services are very critical to handling the COVID-19 situation as they have important roles to play in sustaining the lockdown directive.
“As they lock down, people cannot come out to get certain things that are basic and essential. However, people can always purchase these things online and it is the courier and logistics services that will deliver it to the individuals.”
He also alleged that there are some enforcement agents who harass vendors of courier services, adding “We hope that this will not take longer than normal and that things will come back to normal sooner than later.”
Meanwhile, Ubah also said that before the COVID-19 crisis, operators were dealing with the sour aftermath of a policy that restricted motorcycle in Lagos as this takes toll on their operatins.
He said, “At regulatory level, the courier regulatory department of NIPOST has a lot of work to do in conjunction with Lagos state government to address the issues. Lagos is the economic hub of the country and whatever is done in Lagos can actually be replicated in other parts of the country.
“What we have in Lagos now is just like a parallel regulation. The state can do its own bye-law to regulate the operations of courier operators in the state but it has to be in consonance with the established standard of the Courier regulatory department that is established and empowered to license courier operations.
“These are things that we actually intended to iron out before this Coronavirus crisis came about. The bodies really need to sit down and talk about it because as a matter of fact, the regulation affects the courier industry so much.”