Freight Forwarders, who ply their trade at the Lagos ports, have accused the Council for the Registration of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN), Nigerian Shippers’Council and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of a sell-out in the struggle to have fair trade practices with the shipping companies.
It would be recalled that the amalgam of the freight forwarders from the National Government Approved Freight Forwarders(NAGAFF) and the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has engaged the predominantly foreign shipping companies over operational issues of extortion, indiscriminate and arbitrary charges.
In the course of the trade dispute, the angry freight forwarders had twice issued notices of service withdrawal if their grievances were not met.
However, in order to stave off service disruption, the CRFFN, in collaboration with the Shippers Council and NPA, had called for a truce by calling for a peace meeting between the two warring parties.
Unfortunately, the peace meeting was deadlocked.
However, the freight forwarders have accused the three government agencies of high level of insincerity and deceit over their mediatory roles in the conflict.
Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, the National Coordinator of the 100 percent compliance team of NAGAFF, who is one of the leaders of the protesting Customs brokers, lamented that the three agencies have abandoned the freight forwarders in their struggle with the shipping companies.
While ventilating the feelings of the aggrieved freight forwarders, Ibrahim accused the three agencies of grandstanding and playing the ostrich.
“We trusted them ( the three agencies) before and that was why we listened to them when they called for a truce.
“But event in recent times and the body language of the officials of these agencies have demonstrated their insincerity and deceit.
“We do not trust them anymore as they have abandoned us in the hours of our struggle and betrayed the trust we had in them” Alhaji Tanko lamented.
He alleged that the agencies may have been compromised for them to look the other way while the foreign agents are milking the Nigerian freight forwarders through unbridled extortions and arbitrary charges.
Tanko further disclosed that the attitude of the three regulatory agencies, which he said are supposed to protect the interests of customs brokers, has further emboldened the shipping companies in their exploitative practices which he lamented, are being perpetrated with undisguised impunity.
“Maybe the three government agencies are enjoying the problems we are going through. If not, they should do something before something gives” he warned.
Tanko declared that the level of disenchantment among the freight forwarders is so high that if the leadership should ask them to give vent to their anger, a lot of harm could be unleashed on port businesses.
“That is why the leadership of the freight forwarders is still managing the situation by not allowing them to disrupt port operations through strike action.
“We know the maritime business is very critical to the economic well being of the country, therefore we are still showing restraint despite the compromised posture of those whose statutory duties are to protect us.
“We are still pursuing the path of peace through continuous dialogue not because we are afraid to make good our threat to go on strike but because of the responsible leadership which does not wish to hurt the economy and the people we lead” Tanko claimed.
He however warned that if the relevant agencies of government fail to call the recalcitrant shipping companies to order in their punitive operational practices, the leadership of the freight forwarders may be left with no other option than to call the restive freight forwarders out on strike.
“It is not over until it is over. The struggle continues but we may not be able to contain the agitations of the oppressed freight forwarders much longer if the impunity of the shipping companies is not quickly checked” the NAGAFF chieftain declared in an ominous tone