The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, has decried the hike in cargo charges by the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, NAHCO, and Skyway Aviation Handling Company, SAHCO, which it says has risen by as much as 40 per cent.
In a chat with Vanguard Maritime Report, President of the Association, Increase Uche, said the group discovered the illegal charges following the recent survey of all the port handling companies, noting that these aviation handling companies took advantage of the land border closure as most people who usually pass their cargoes through the land border, now resort to air trading.
He stated: "The information we got which is not acceptable at all was that NAHCO and SAHCO increased their charges by over 40 per cent. We have been monitoring all the services from Mile1 in Port Harcourt, Onne and other places; we have been following up with the activities through a survey. We carried out a study collating all the current duty notes from all shipping companies and all terminals, including Customs duty documents, we screened all of them and found out that it was only the airport that increased their charges to over 40 per cent which is not proper.
"They want to take advantage of the border closure. What happened was that because of the border closure, most people that usually passed their cargo through the border decided to do air trading, but the seaport did not hike their charges, it is still normal just that some of the charges before now are unapproved charges."
Uche further revealed that some freight forwarders and clearing agents who ought to oppose the unapproved increment at the initial stage, collected bribe thereby allowing the illegal charges to continue. He, however, called on the Federal Government as well as the attention of the Nigerian Shippers' Council, NSC, to investigate the matter and possibly cut down the charges, adding that the Association are yet to see the value added by these handling companies that should warrant such heavy charge.
"We learnt that freight forwarders and clearing agents were giving a bribe in order to compromise the system and then allow NAHCO and SAHCO to increase their charges by over 40 per cent. I have called on the Nigerian Shippers' Council to look into the matter and get a reverse. They cannot do that unilaterally without the consent of the Shippers' Council. It is not possible for them to regulate charges without improving on their service delivery, because we are yet to see the value addition that brought about the increase of these charges without passing through the consent of shippers council.
"We are also calling on the Federal Government to make an intervention and allow this not to happen again. They have done that and nobody is talking, so it is time now that we call the attention of the Government", Uche concluded.