Arbitrary charges : Freight forwarders threaten to demarket erring companies
*Seeks urgent government intervention
By Udeme Clement :
Freight forwarders under NAGAFF have threatened to demarket Ocean Network Express, as well as other foreign shipping lines operating in Nigeria’s Port industry for alleged arbitrary charges.
The freight forwarders also expressed strong displeasure on what they described as unprofessional conducts in which the shipping Companies carry out their operations in the country.
The Chairman, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Apapa chapter, Mr Ndubuisi Uzoegbo, made this known while addressing maritime reporters yesterday, at Apapa, Lagos.
Speaking further, he stressed, “Freight forwarders can no longer cope with arbitrary charges imposed on them by foreign shipping firms. We are ready to demarket some of the shipping lines, such that these erring companies will lose patronage of their customers. We are going to act now, as we cannot continue like this again.”
Mr Uzoegbo also called for urgent government intervention on the issue, saying authorities in the Port industry should stop foreign shipping firms from imposing arbitrary charges on importers and their agents.
According to him, “The excesses of some shipping Companies in Apapa ports must be checked in the best interest of the nation’s economy.
He alleged, “some of the shipping lines do not even have conflict resolution units in Nigeria. They always contact their head quarters abroad before resolving minor issues that can be handled here easily. Waiting to contact their head offices abroad on minor issues is making the clearing process very cumbersome for us.
“Also, we are equally aware that some of the storage charges, as well as rents are being manipulated by these multinationals to increase their profits, to the detriment of freight forwarders.
“It is quite clear that these foreign firms lack business and human relations in dealing with Nigerian shippers in the industry.”
He frowned, “these foreign Companies have monopolised shipping activities in Nigeria without any form of intervention from government to protect local importers and their agents.
“As such, we are going to embark on a peaceful demonstration over arbitrary charges by the multinationals, in order to draw attention of government to our plight.
“At present, many freight forwarding Companies in Nigeria are going under due to unfriendly activities of shipping lines in the Ports.
“There is also issue of evacuation of empty containers. Let me state here that Nigeria is not a dumping ground for empty containers. So, there is need for these shipping lines to evacuate empty containers in the country”.
His assertions, “In fact, these shipping lines are making things worst for us all. I think the best way out is to take the bull by the horns, since we do not have anybody to fight for us. The industry is shrinking every day and it appears we are voiceless with no one to fight for us”.