- Clearing agents at Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos are divided over the implementation of a new cargo tariff by two ground handling companies in the Nigerian aviation sector.
- While the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has denounced the new 100% tariff, the Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) supports it.
- APFFLON President Frank Ogunojemite believes the new tariff is necessary for the ground handling companies to remain in business and provide essential services. He also questions ANLCA’s sincerity in advocating for their members.
There appears to be a division among the clearing agents at Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos regarding the recent implementation of a new cargo tariff by two ground handling companies in the Nigerian aviation sector.
While the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has denounced the new 100% tariff as a rip-off, the Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) contends that the new tariff is appropriate and fitting, particularly at this time.
More on APFFLON’s position
During a press briefing held on Thursday at the Lagos airport, Frank Ogunojemite, the President of APFFLON, expressed that the association does not oppose the 100% increase. He labeled those who oppose the new tariff system as hypocritical and asserted that the ground handling companies, being privately owned, have the freedom to charge any tariff they consider necessary to keep their business viable.
Ogunojemite emphasized that it is vital to appreciate the fact that the ground handling companies incur a considerable amount of expenses in carrying out their operations, particularly with the current economic situation. Therefore, he believes the new tariff is necessary for them to remain in business and continue to provide the essential services they offer.
Strongly opposed to ANLCA
He explained that as an advocate of ease-of-doing business, the body did not see anything “insensitive” about the newly introduced tariff regime as claimed by ANLCA, stressing that the handling companies are also being affected by the harsh economic situation of the country.
He maintained that the companies are at liberty to fashion out ways to remain in business, noting that the companies have staff in their employment, and as public liability companies, they as well, have shareholders who are entitled to return on investment. He said:
- “Again, we are all aware of the setback and havoc wrecked on international businesses by Covid-19 pandemic, and cargo handling companies were not excluded. Today, prices of passenger tickets across airlines have increased to over 300 per cent, yet nobody or group is coming out to protest against the development.
- “The continued plunging of naira against the United States dollars and other world currencies is causing serious inflation, which is adversely affecting businesses as well. Price comparison with other African countries as regards cargo handling charges is almost at par or a bit higher than that of our indigenous companies.
“It should be recalled that in 2019, APFFLON went to court seeking to stop the same increment because we saw no genuine reason behind it, rather than a move inspired by greed as the aim was to extort Nigerians, we did not find the increment justifiable and that informed our filing a lawsuit against the cargo handling companies then.”
He further explained that the two handling companies had consulted with the clearing agents on numerous occasions before implementing the new tariff, and agreements were also made.
He questioned why ANLCA and its leaders had not protested against the various levies and fees imposed by the Federal Government over the years. He mentioned the controversial Customs Service Provider, Mssrs. Webb Fontaine, and the multiple taxes on imported vehicles and various products by the government. Ogunojemite pointed out that these charges have continued to burden the agents, and the lack of objections by ANLCA and its leaders raises doubts about their sincerity in advocating for their members.
- “We believe strongly that they are also aware of the V-REG and the new levy called Temporary Vehicle Tag(TVT) slammed on all imported vehicles coming out of Lagos ports by the Lagos State Government; and none of them has come out to condemn the new levy except Chief Dr. Eugene Nweke.
- “APFFLON as a group, will not be part of those kicking against the aviation handling companies new tariff regime, we see the agitation as hypocritical,” he said.
Recall that the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) Plc and the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc had last Wednesday, April 26, 2023, effected 100 per cent charges in general cargo/bank, demurrage and registration for the clearing agents.
Consequently, ANLCA, led by its Vice Chairman Davies Chukwunenye, directed its members to down tools following the new tariff introduced by SAHCO and NAHCO.
For instance, the increment showed that general cargo/bank consignment charges per kilogram rose from N63. 30 to N130. 6, the demurrage charge per kilogram also went up from N13 to N26 while re-registration was pegged at N15, 000 from N4, 420 among others.
Are the clearing agents working or on strike now?