Covid-19: NAGAFF queries contributions of NPA, Customs, others to ensure smooth port operation


The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has queried the contribution of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and other government agencies at the ports to ensure the workability of the presidential directive on ports operation during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had in his nationwide address on the 29th March, 2020 directed that the seaports in Lagos should remain operational during the lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and FCT to facilitate the clearance of essential cargoes.

Speaking on the contributions of the various government agencies working at the nation’s maritime industry, the National President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos recently said that as it stands now, only the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) had been trying their best to help the entire system to function by ensuring that buses were always on ground to pick freight forwarders and other port users to the port and by 5 o’clock in the evening, they would take them back to their respective locations.

Uche said,” What has been the contribution of the NPA, NIMASA, Nigeria Customs Service, Standards Organizations of Nigeria and other government agencies at the port in order to make sure that the directive of the federal government is working? That is where the main issue is, not for somebody to sit down in the office and be issuing directives. Come out; donate buses that will enable freight forwarders and other port users to access the port.

“We expected NIMASA to donate some buses, we expected NPA to donate some buses, we expected customs to donate buses but customs officer are there waiting for shippers to come with their freight forwarders but they are not making efforts to see that the banks are working. Containers were dropped as at last week, those containers dropped, they couldn’t examine them because they are yet to confirm payment. You see the officers at the terminals, sitting and crossing their legs until freight forwarders produce receipts confirming the payment of duty, they cannot attend to their cargo.

“So, what effort are you even making to make sure that these things are handled effectively? So, the problem is hydra-headed, the way we are looking at it now and now that the government has extended this lockdown, what it means is that instead of some of us trying to make some adjustments, we now start to plan what we should have done earlier before now.”

He continued, “The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, we have tried our best working in conjunction with the Shippers’ Council. The Registrar of CRFFN has been on ground, our Council Board Chairman has been issuing orders, asking us to move in which we have been doing, assisting the freight forwarders, providing security for their movement and so on.

“What we need to do now is to bring all the government agencies to be on the same page in this. Customs should donate buses, although we need limited number of freight forwarders to be at the port. Look at the number of registered freight forwarders in the register of the Council, we have not even allowed up to a percentage to access the port, those that have genuine business to do at the port. We are not asking every other person to be at the port, only those that have genuine business to carry out in the ports that are allowed to access the buses that were provided to ease their movement.”

Photo: NAGAFF National President, Chief Increase Uche.

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