The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), has disassociated itself from the planned protest action and withdrawal of services by some aggrieved Freight Forwarders at the nation’s seaports from Monday 4th May, 2020.
The National President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche who made this known in a statement sent to Journalists in Lagos said the protest according to the information at their disposal is in connection with the flouting of the directive given by Government Authorities to Shipping Companies and terminal Operators to grant waivers on shipping container demurrage from March 30, 2020 to April 27, 2020.
He warned that their members who chose to be part of the protest does not have the mandate of NAGAFF as they would be treated as dissident by the Association.
Chief Uche recalled that the waiver palliative was brokered by the Shippers’ Council (NSC) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as a succor to Shippers/Consignees in order to reduce the effects of the Presidential directives on the lockdown slammed on Lagos and Ogun State as well as the FCT, and the attendant skeletal services provided by the various parties in the Maritime supply chain, at the wake of the COVID 19 Pandemic.
He pointed out that though 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 but the fate of the Freight Forwarders who have been toiling all these period, incurring avoidable operational risks in rendering services in obedience to the Presidential directives in keeping the ports operational as essential logistics service providers should be the concerns of all.
NAGAFF President however appealed to their 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, “Findings have also 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 to the waiver directives. 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.
Chief Uche expressed absolute confidence of NAGAFF, in NSC, NPA, and CRFFN in resolving the current impasse between the Freight Forwarders and the shipping companies, Terminal operators on the matters of the waiver palliatives and urge them 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 her public Policy Advocacy dialogue in ensuring that every independent Freight Forwarder operates in a friendly ecosystem while carrying out his/her businesses 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 concludes.