The President General of the Nigerian Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), Prince Bakare Adeyinka has said that the transport sector in Nigeria has made some level of progress in the last eight months even though it is not where it ought to be at the moment.
Speaking in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos on Tuesday, Adeyinka noted that although Nigeria was no longer where it used to be in the transport sector, a lot still needed to be done.
In his words,” I think one way or the other, we are not there, a lot still need to be done. But one thing is sure; we are not where we were before today. There is a bit of progress, I think one way or the other, we are moving forward. When I say a lot of things need to be done, if you take for instance, the airport, you cannot see us moving with the pace we would have love to move in terms of cargo declaration, clearance and so on. The same thing at the seaport, we are not where we should be by now.
“I saw of recent, the port of Tema doing expansion and bringing in new cranes and other equipment. Do they even have the volume (of cargo) that Nigeria has? The answer is no but the port of Tema is now looking at it as business to enter into other North African countries using their port as transit port which is what I think Nigeria should do. We have a larger port, we have a bigger market, we have everything. So, when the port of Tema is looking at that direction, then what are we doing? We are still battling traffic and demurrage and so on.
“So, we should have gone beyond that part of challenge but like I said, we are not where we used to be because if you look at the traffic situation two months ago, you will find out that it is a bit better now than what we have two months ago. As the days go by we should be getting solutions on the traffic situation but we are not where we should be.”
He further decried the unnecessary delays up to 72 hours being witnessed during cargo clearance at the airports which he attributed to the presence of too many government agencies in the clearing chain each trying to be seen and to take a pound of flesh from the importer even as he frowned at that development.
“For a shipper to use the air cargo as service option it also depends on the urgency of that cargo. The need for the cargo or the perishable nature of the cargo determines the choice of air cargo; it is not because it is cheaper. We all know that the air is more expensive than the sea but for you to have decided to use the air cargo as service option, then something would have informed that.
“And by the time you get to the airport and you are having a delay of more than 24 hours to take the cargo out, it becomes an issue. You are having a delay of 48 hours to clear that cargo, then it becomes an issue not just to the freight forwarder but even to the end users who probably need that cargo within 48 hours or within 72 hours to be cleared out and get to the factory.
“And by the time you are having 48 hours or 72 hours delay, it becomes an issue and what causes the delay, it is government agencies, SON needs to view it, NDLEA, even agencies that don’t have anything to do with the cargo want to be relevant probably because they must sign an examination sheet even when they don’t have anything to do with the cargo. It becomes an issue. If you look at some cargo, for example, machinery and you land at the airport and you have SON to sign and NDLEA is there because he needs to sign on the examination sheet, you know this their pattern, he will be like I am not signing unless you give me this amount”, he explained.
He however called for a concerted effort on the part of the federal government to bring to end this practice which according to him does not encourage trade facilitation but strangles trade in the country.
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