The National Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators NAFFAC, has raised fresh concerns over the rising level of capital flight due to the domination of the air freight business in Nigeria by foreign operators, saying the foreign operators handle all the project cargoes due to lack of capacity of indigenous operators to undertake such businesses.

Formed in 1985 with over 300 corporate members, the association has in the last one year made efforts to expand its business and operational frontiers, as it has concluded plans to launch its Port Harcourt Airport chapter of the tomorrow, while those of Abuja and Calabar chapters would come not too long from now.

National President of the association, Bakare Adeyinka, who spoke during an interactive session with members of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria MARAN, in Lagos, Tuesday as part of activities to mark the one-year anniversary of the current executives, expressed regrets that most of the project cargoes are handled by foreign firms, especially Chinese and Indians, which he said portends huge capital flight for the country.

He blamed the problem partly on the failure of many of the Nigerian operators to develop the much needed capacity in terms of technical competence, expertise and funding  that could facilitate the handling of such project cargoes.

Apart from the problems associated with poor funding and lack of expertise, it was also gathered that Nigerians including government agencies give preference to foreign firms operating in the industry due to the wrong notions that they are better.

He noted that the association is doing all it can to change this narrative in no distant time by training and re-training its members on global standard practice and also encouraging them to acquire international certifications such as the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association FIATA, and the International Air Transport Association, IATA as well as membership of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria CRFFN.

On the challenges faced by the industry, he noted that the greatest remains the poor image of the profession in the country, saying that many people only know ‘clearing and forwarding agents’ or at best Licensed Customs Agents, which does not make for the growth and development of the business and in terms of attracting government’s attention.

He also listed the delays associated with the location of the Lagos offices of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, located in Lekki and the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control NAFDAC, both of which play key roles in the clearing of some regulated products, as they need to obtain their certifications.

It was also gathered that operators in this segment of the transport sector are also grappling with the effects of imposition of double taxation and charges by government agencies including the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria FAAN, which has been at loggerheads with the successive leaderships of the association in the last 13 years over the imposition of arbitrary and double taxes, among others.