Group petitions FG over extortion by APMT, shipping firms
Founder, NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam
BY FRANCIS EZEM
Stakeholders under the aegis of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders NAGAFF have written the National Assembly, the Nigerian Shippers Council and the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA over worsening cases of extortion and over billing by AP Moller Aapa limited and some multinational shipping companies.
In a letter dated July 11, 2018, addressed to both arms of the National Assembly, NPA, NSC, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Transport and the Assistant Inspector General of Police AIG, in charge of Marine Command and signed by the chairman of the Apapa Port chapter of the association, Mr. Ndubuisi Uzoegbo, the group said that the terminal operator and other shipping firms on daily basis look for flimsy reasons to impose all manner of illegal charges on port service users.
According to the petition, the latest ploy by these service providers is to use the ongoing road construction to deny empty container-laden trucks access to the ports whereas the real reason is their failure and refusal to provide holding bays as directed by the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman.
The letter reads in part: “We use this medium to call the attention of the Federal government of Nigeria, the National Assembly, the civil societies, relevant stakeholders in the maritime industry as well as the general public on the pains we suffer as freight forwarders through our work engagements with shipping companies and APM terminal operators.
“Many would not know, until we come here to make it bold that APMT is not worth to be called a terminal as it lacks state of the art facilities and has no standard holding bay with inadequate logistics which causes freight forwarders to bear the cost. We also have to add here, that APMT with obvious conspiracy with her fellow multinational agents of modern slavery which are the shipping companies through their deliberate delays, only to extort continuously through charges as demurrage on containers. This, is made possible only through their self-designed deliberate internet network system breakdown, perpetual denial of access into the ports and most times APMT places all container delivery on hold for some flimsy excuses because they have limited holding bay.
“Hence, the terminal and shipping companies make us to pay heavily for their lack of adequate logistic which is nothing but gross injustice against us. This, we must also mention has gross consequence on market prices of goods and it affects the Nigerian economy at large as the foreign parasites who owns the shipping companies and the APMT milk us with disdain, since they have nothing to lose.The most disgusting issue about these foreign agents of modern slavery is that after the Nigerian customs services must have carried out her part of the clearing process as swift as thunder, we expect no delay but since the APMT and her conspirators felt we are weaker party and that we have no say in our country they continue to milk us dry and no one has come to our avoid.
“We make bold to say that we cannot continue to be slave in our own country under these neo-imperialistic agents. It should also be noted that for a year now, the shipping companies and APMT has not made any measure to consider freight forwarders and importers on the high cost of transport associated with the Apapa/Wharf road constructions. Instead, they only continue to frustrate our efforts with huge deductions they make on container deposit”.
The group noted that these acts of exploitation constitute an infringement on their rights to work and do business in their country, which is being tampered with by foreign agents and which consequently leads to violation of their rights to life as many of our fellow freight forwarders have lost their lives through the depression and frustration which are the concomitants of the impunity regime placed us on us by the shipping companies and APMT.
“As if the deliberate technical delays which cost us huge fortunes and made many to lose their source of livelihood is not enough, the shipping companies and the APMT also have inconsiderate arbitrary charges, poor conditions of services, unconducive work environment and inhuman treatment as their hallmark”, the petition also said.
The group therefore requested the NPA to provide the freight forwarders with a cargo village just like what the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria FAAN did at the Muritala Muhammed International Airppor, Lagos to enhance their operations.