Customs Agents Strike & Battle With FAAN Continues: Goods Worth Millions Grounded

July 4th, 2012

Strike: Multi-billion naira cargoes stranded at Lagos airport

Oyetunji Abioye

Multi-billion naira cargoes have been stranded at the Cargo Terminal of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, following the strike by the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents.

On Tuesday, efforts to end the two-week old strike were abortive.

Earlier on Monday, a meeting between the leadership of the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents and officials of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc over payment of demurrage on goods not cleared during the two-week industrial action had also ended in a deadlock.

ANCLA members had begun the strike after the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria directed them to vacate the cargo area over security concerns at the airport.

With discussions between ANCLA and FAAN on Monday, it was expected that the strike would be called off.

The ANCLA members, however, continued the strike on Tuesday, following the breakdown in the talks between their leaders and the management of NAHCo Plc over payment of demurrage on goods that were not cleared during the two weeks of the industrial action.

Officials and leaders at the meeting said NAHCO management offered to give a 40 per cent waiver on demurrage incurred on goods that were not cleared during the period of the industrial action, but which ANCLA opposed.

Confirming the development, Chairman, ANCLA, Airport Chapter, Mr. Dada Agubuzo, said, “NAHCo management imposed a new increase on handling charges on us a few weeks ago. We were discussing that with them. Now, it wanted us to pay demurrage on goods again. We said we had agreed to pay the new increase on certain conditions, which included combining cargo and documents together, among other things.

“We also asked them to remove this demurrage 100 per cent. NAHCo management said it would only grant 40 per cent, which we said was totally unacceptable to us. We said increasing handling charges from N25 to N38 per kilogramme would have several implications on the economy, among other things. By the new N38, it means somebody that has 1000 kilogrammes will have to pay about N38,000 handling charges. This does not include the FAAN’s charges, Value Added Tax and several other charges, including the document charge by the airline. we told them to even combine the airline document charge with their.”

But NAHCo’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Sanya Onayoade, said the company had its policy on cargo clearing.

A statement by the company had earlier said, “This is to inform all cargo importers, airlines and stakeholders of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (Nahco aviance) that they should process clearing of their shipments within the government’s stipulated time for cargo storage.

“This information is necessary due to the non-clearing of cargo by the Licensed Customs Agents, arising from the Federal Government’s decision to enhance security around the airport. During this period, our operations and warehouses remained open to all our stakeholders.

“Our Cargo Handling Protocol allows for seven days grace to clear such cargoes, after which they will be charged for demurrage. In the event that the goods are not cleared within 28 days, the consignments risk being declared overtime cargo by the Nigerian Customs Service.”