In a rapidly escalating situation at Nigeria’s ports, the founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr Boniface Aniebonam has urgently appealed for calm in response to the arbitrary increase in port charges by shipping companies and terminal operators. Tensions have flared, and this has prompted concerns about the repercussions on the nation’s freight forwarding industry.
Notably, two major freight forwarding associations in Nigeria, NAGAFF and Association of Nigeria License Customs Agents (ANLCA) have been embroiled in rivalry, detracting from the greater objective of advancing the interests of freight forwarding practitioners in the country. According to Dr. Aniebonam, the need for unity and collaboration among these organizations is now evident.
The founder of NAGAFF however called for unity and cooperation, expressing the collective aspiration to make Nigeria great once again.
He noted that complicating matters, regulatory bodies, such as the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), have faced challenges in fulfilling their regulatory functions effectively. He added that this regulatory vacuum has given terminal operators leeway to act as profit-driven enterprises, raising concerns about fair pricing.
“The increase in operational costs for terminal operators, primarily attributed to the removal of the oil subsidy, has led to their pursuit of higher profits. As a result, there is a pressing need for stakeholders to engage in a dialogue and find a competitive, reasonable, and affordable solution to this issue.
“An urgent call has been made for the Nigeria Shippers Council to convene an emergency meeting with stakeholders and terminal operators to address the matter promptly. The aim is to prevent the escalating unrest within the customs ports as a result of these arbitrary increases.
“It’s acknowledged that sacrifices and hard work are essential to overcome the economic challenges facing Nigeria. Freight forwarding practitioners are urged to exercise restraint and collaborate with government authorities to resolve the unrest and ensure the smooth operation of the ports.
“The appeal underscores the importance of dialogue, consultation, and communication as the preferred means of conflict resolution over violence. Terminal operators are encouraged to seek approval for charge increases from the appropriate authorities in the transportation ministry and engage in meaningful consultations with stakeholders.
“Concerns have also been raised about customs duty assessment on imported goods, which might be overvalued for revenue collection purposes. The quest to meet revenue targets should not overshadow the need for trade facilitation and adherence to import and export regulations” he noted .
The appeal concluded with a message of hope, as the ban on 43 items is lifted, with expectations that compliance levels will rise in the declaration of customs purposes. Aniebonam’s appeal for calm serves as a critical reminder of the importance of collaboration and diplomacy in resolving disputes that affect the smooth operation of customs ports and the broader Nigerian economy.