The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) on Monday condemned last Thursday’s attack on the corporate office of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) located at the Apapa area of Lagos by people suspected to be members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA).
The Executive Secretary of NSC, Barr. Hassan Bello who made the condemnation when he paid a working visit to the corporate office of MSC called on the freight forwarders to always go by the book and avoid taking laws into their hands.
Bello equally blamed the management of the company for the seeming lack of responsiveness on their part to their customers even as he urged them to devise a better means of relating better with their customers.
He said, “We are also disturbed by what we learnt was an incident that happened on Thursday which brought us a lot of concerns. So, we just come to rob minds to look at these things. One of the issues which we have constantly received complaints against this company is apparent lack of responsiveness by the Customer Care.
“A lot has been sent to us as complaints even complaints from the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is not addressed in good time. And also, the way you treat the freight forwarders could be better. On the issue of automation which is very important since we embarked on that, we have seen companies automating their processes so that you don’t even need to have crowd here. People should stay in their offices, clear their goods, payments made and many other processes.
“And when we have the scores, we found you on 44% which is a good ground to start but it is apparent that you have a lot of work to do to automate other processes that you have. I am sure when you do that, your customers will also adapt because it is not only you, they too must adapt to your system. What we are trying to build is a port community system where by first quarter of next year, most transactions will be done online. If you do transactions online, half of your problem is solved, nobody will come in here to harass you.
“And by the way, we condemn people taking the laws into their hands; we are calling on the freight forwarding associations to always go by the book. We are here to protect you from such harassment. It is unbecoming and we will have discussions with not only the organizations but their heads. There must be a way of addressing complains and that is either through yourself or either through the Nigerian Shippers’ Council. Nobody is allowed to take laws into their hands. Nigeria is a country of laws, it is a country of constitution and you cannot have such aberrations. We frown at it and we condemn it and we are going to see that this doesn’t happen.
“But you too must be responsible to your customers’ yearnings. Many times, phone calls are made and they are not returned, emails are not returned, leaving people in the shades and so on. I know during the Covid, we were here more than in any other shipping line. We came here about two or three times and at that time, sanity was at least restored. So, we will want you to go with it, not being sluggish to your customers and not being sluggish in response to the regulatory authorities. We know this is a peak period with the export and import; there could be a lot of difficulties, we come to listen to you also, if you have something you want to tell us, we will look at it.”
Responding, the Managing Director of MSC Shipping Nigeria Limited, Mr. Andrew Lynche while appreciating the management of the NSC for the visit however noted that the main complaint by the association was stemming containers from the challenges in the terminals and not challenges arising from the corporate office of the company.
According to Lynche, “If I can quote the statement by one of the clearing agents when they requested for a meeting with the terminal operator, they said the issue is there not here. So, that issue is due to terminal congestion which obviously impact on our processes here when containers are stacked in the terminal beyond the point that return expires and things like that.”
He however disclosed that the management of the company had a follow up meeting with ANLCA even as he believed that they would found some common ground and a way forward.
On automation, he said, “The issue of automation, it is an important one for us. We agree with you, we have renewed a lot of our processes more online. There is a little bit of resistance I would say from stakeholders. There is still a preference for people to come and transact face to face. We will keep working on that. We have a new system, some of the challenges, I would say, we faced in the last couple of months had been due to new system roll out which is always when it is being implemented, there is always glitches and some things that come up. So, these things affect our invoicing time or delivery all the time. That was addressed by throwing more people as in short time as our vision long time is to get the system working perfectly which we are progressing on and that will make automation easier once it is fully integrated.
“So, we support all efforts for automation, I will just throw a comment. Maybe you have heard this comment before, one of the most manual processes we have here is actually in all our interactions with some of the state authorities; the customs, NIMASA, NPA. We are still printing manifests multiple times for every vessel; I think seven copies per vessel. We do transit electronically but they still insist on hard copy follow up.”
Photo: The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello.
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