The ranks seem to have broken among clearing agents.over the cargo handling tariff currently disrupting activities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Cargo area as another group: Africa Association of Professional freight forwarders and logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) have said they stand with the handling companies on the tariff increase.
A statement titled:” Our stance on the revised cargo handling tariff signed by National President APFFLON, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite,and made available to the media, the group says it is not against the recent increase in tariff by Aviation handling companies as those kicking against the new tariff regime are only being hypocritical.
The body said, it does not see anything insensitive about the newly introduced tariff regime and stressing that those threatening to withdraw their services should also bear in mind that Aviation handling companies are not government companies, and being affected by the harsh economy situation as well, they are at liberty to fashion out ways to remain in business.
Ogunojemite said, “Again, we are all aware of the setback and havoc wreaked on International businesses by Covid-19, and cargo handling companies were not excluded. Today, prices of passengers tickets across airlines have increased to over 300 percent, yet nobody or group is coming out to protest against the development.
“The continued plunging of Naira against the USD 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.
“Indeed, APFFLON is amazed that despite several engagements and agreement with handlers they can still allow their internal wrangling to affect their decisions. And we need to ask, why have our sister associations been unable to find their voices even as the Federal Government continues to slam fresh levies on imported vehicles as well as the prolonged stay of the controversial Customs Service Provider, Mssrs.Webb Fontaine, why have they not been bold enough to protest ?
The body criticised ANLCA for not speaking up even as Federal and state governments impose new taxes on existing taxes while they face handling companies’
“It is indeed disturbing not seeing the leadership of these associations stand up to condemn multiple taxation on imported vehicles and sundry products by the Federal and state governments, 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.
” 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.”
Our sister associations are being insensitive to the plights of the cargo handlers as well, because on one or two occasions, some of the staff of one of the companies went on strike over poor working condition which was a clear indication that the harsh government policies and galloping inflation also affect them as it affects individuals and private enterprises.
APFFLON understands the current economic situation which is informed by the galloping inflation that keeps dealing a dazing blow on entrepreneurs, and corporate organizations, we must commend the handling companies for downward review of the initial 100 percent increase to 75 percent. It shows that they are sensitive to the plight of their customers.
APFFLON hereby advise our sister associations to be alive to their responsibilities; they owe freight forwarders, the port industry and Nigerians a lot especially in a time like this when multiple taxation and inflation are emasculating businesses, we lament the skyrocketing market prices of household items which is grossly affecting the live and livelihood of the common man and we call upon the leaderships of sister associations to always stand up in one voice against unfriendly policies, not only when they do not favour them.
APFFLON finally assured the aviation community and the general public that its members will continue to render services to clients as professionals and law abiding citizens, and also used this medium to appreciate the security agencies especially the Nigeria Police Force for ensuring peace and security as always.