Lending its Support to the efforts of the federal Government to curb the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 in the country, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has called on all freight forwarders to observe all the precautionary measures announced by the government and agencies tackling the dreaded diseases.
This was contained in a press Statement endorsed by the Secretary General of NAGAFF, Dipo Olayoku, being part of the resolutions reached at the management meeting of the umbrella body of all Freight Forwarders in Nigeria. held at its National Headquarters on Wednesday, 25th March, 2020.
According to the release, NAGAFF specifically advised freight forwarders to observe the principle of social distancing by avoiding over – crowded places, maintain a distance of two feet away from the other person, avoid persons sneezing or coughing, always wash their hands up to the elbow with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds, as well as maintain a high level of personal hygiene at all times, while Hand sanitizers should be acquired and used by those who can afford them.
NAGAFF reminded Freight Forwarders of their strategic position in the International Trade and revenue generation for the Government which forbid them from shutting down completely, but at the same time, their health safety should be paramount if they must continue to function effectively and efficiently even after the scourge must have gone.
The Association further urged the freight forwarders NAGAFF to also endeavour to remain indoors, transact their freight forwarding businesses online, but to come out only when it becomes absolutely necessary to transact their businesses at the Ports.
“Other freight forwarders who don’t have any serious thing to do outside should remain indoors to help in the efforts by the government to check the spread of the disease in our dear country.”
They called on Shipping Companies and Terminal Operators and other government agencies involved in port activities to upgrade their systems such that interactions with them could be done online so as to remove or reduce human contacts in their operations. By so doing, the spread of the deadly disease would be drastically checked in our country.
The Release said, “The Association believes that even in times of emergency like this, the interest of freight forwarders should always be strictly observed and upheld. As such, we call on the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the Government to ensure that Shipping Lines Terminal Operators do not exploit freight forwarders through arbitrary charges, tariff and demurrage. Towards this end, we want the Government to make a categorical statement that will allay the fears of Freight Forwarders and that they would not bear the brunt of the likely effect of delay in cargo clearance which is bound to occur in this time of National emergency.
“The Transport Ministry should declare a “force majeure” for at least 21 days in which demurrages should be waived.
“In fulfillment of our obligations to freight forwarders all over the country and stakeholders including Government agencies, while at the same time observing the policy of Government limiting the number of people in a place to 25 people, our National Headquarters will remain open, but with only the essential officers in attendance. By so doing, we will be respecting the authority of the Government and also keeping the machineries of our Association running thereby ensuring that our duty to Government on revenue generation is discharged.
“We use this medium to commend the Government on its efforts so far in the fight against COVID- 19, and urged it not to spare any legitimate efforts in checking the spread. The Government should not relent in its efforts at further sensitizing the people on the need to realize the danger in not adhering to the directives that have been given out”.
“The Government should make sure that all directives are strictly enforced to make Nigerians adhere to these directives. Our appeal however is that Government should always consider the interest of the masses in whatever it is doing in this very difficult time. However, we hope the Government will look at the positive side of this situation in its future endeavours. To us at NAGAFF, the current situation has opened our eyes to the need to improve our health facilities to be able to withstand this type of stress which our health infrastructure is going through now”.
“Finally, we call on Nigerians to support the Government in this time of National emergency in the interest of the country by observing all the precautionary measures announced by health experts. Nigerians should avoid any action that could hinder efforts to combat the disease. We implore those who, in one way or the other, might have been exposed to the risk of COVID-19 to either self – isolate for 14 days or get in touch with the nearest health facilities”.
“We are fully convinced that with the “I- CAN – DO” spirit of Nigerians, COVID – 19 will soon be a thing of the past in our dear country”.