MAJAN Roundtable :  Freight Forwarders Set For ‘War ‘ With Terminal Operators Over Outrageous Increase In Rent Charges

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MAJAN Roundtable :  Freight Forwarders Set For ‘War ‘ With Terminal Operators Over Outrageous Increase In Rent Charges
…Conclude plans to shut down the ports

…..Knocks Farinto, others for supporting astronomical increment

…Accuses Shippers’ Council of complicity

From right; Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko and Shippers’ Council CEO

If urgent measures are not taken to address recent hike in rent charges to over 650% by terminal operators, the nation’s economy may suffer a set back, as the Freight Forwarders have concluded plans to shut down the ports in Lagos, by embarking on massive protests.

The National Coordinator, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) 100 % Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, disclosed this, during a Roundtable discussion with members of Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN) on Friday, October 20, 2023.

Mr. Tanko, who expressed great concern for the suffering masses of Nigeria, said; ” I am speaking as a Nigerian, as a Freight Forwarder and as a freedom fighter. No Nigerian will be happy with this over night increment by the terminal operators. No single Nigerian will be happy with the way these terminal operators woke up one morning and increased rent Charges by 650 percent without consultation with anyone.”

The National Coordinator noted that while the terminal operators reserve the right to increase charges, they should do so through the right procedures and not through the back door.

His words; “If you want to increase your charges, nobody is against that. But you must do it in the proper way. You must do extensive consultations. We have the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria ( CRFFN), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the major associations. You should have discussed with all these bodies and tell them why you want to increase charges. All of us will look into the matter and come up with an acceptable amount.

“They didn’t follow that process. Rather, they just woke up one morning and increased rent Charges to over 650 percent.

“Before now, we were paying N1,200.00 and from that amount to now over N96000.00 It is killing! It is totally unacceptable to us”.

He warned that if nothing is done to this obnoxious increment, there is possibility that the ports would be flooded with a lot of overtime containers.

He went on : “Just a few days ago, NPA was complaining about abandoned or overtime containers. They should be prepared to see more overtime containers” .

He said the terminal operators are stifling trade and making life difficult for the average Nigerian, through their insensitive attitude. He said the outrageous charges they incur in the hands of terminal operators are enormous.

“For instance, if you spend only 10 days in the terminal, you are going to pay not less than N96,000.00 to N1million. When you capture, make declaration, you now go to bank to make payments. After that, you come back again and book for examination. The examination you are booking, for example at APMT,will take you nothing less than 3-4 days for the container to be dropped either for scanning or physical examination.’

He said that in addition to the terminal operators charges, the freight Forwarders also have issue with the Nigeria Customs service on benchmarking of duty, which entails payment of N7.5 million per container.

“After paying the N7.5million, you will still get another alert for other payments. In that alert, you can be told anything. The meaning is that after examination, you need to still go back for one thing or the other; it may be amendment or matters of disclosure.

“If care is not taken, you may spend additional 3- 5 days on examination alone”, Tanko lamented.

He warned that the freight Forwarders will resort to the last option of total blockade of Lagos ports, if the terminal operators fail to reverse the increment.

His words; “This is the time for war. We will face anybody who supports the increment. We will see the person as a sell- out”.

He expressed disappointment with the former Acting President of Association Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents  (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, for allegedly supporting the increment.

He said,; “Dr Kayode Farinto is one person I have great respect for, but his input in this matter, I am highly disappointed in him. For him to come out openly and tell us that the terminal operators have right to increase charges to over 650 per cent without consultation !!!
I am not sure that Farinto is still in this industry.”

He accused the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, of complicity in the increment, demanding that NSC should clearly state their position in this matter as the economic regulator of the ports.

His assertion :  “If the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is not aware of the increment, they should come out and tell us. We want to know whether they are with us; or not, or if they are with the foreigners who want to kill us”.

On the issue of lifting forex restrictions on 43 items, Mr. Tanko praised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the timely intervention.

He said; “The President has clearly identified our problem and noted that the impact of the policy would soon be seen in the economy.”

When asked what implication this will have on export trade, Alhaji Tanko responded; “tackle the issue of insecurity before talking of local production. Because of insecurity, farmers don’t go to farms anymore. We need export to grow the economy, but the conducive environment must be created.”

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