All seems not to be moving well for freight forwarders and truckers as members of some freight forwarding associations including: National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) and Association of Maritime Truck Owners ( AMARTO ) barricaded the main entrance into the Apapa ports on Wednesday in a peaceful protest of extortion by terminal operator in the port.
Speaking to newsmen during the protest, Apapa port chapter chairman on NAGAFF; Mr. Ndibuisi Ezeigbo, said that the issues of extortion and unhealthy working environment have been on-going for a while, but they have now decided to take the bull by the horn.
He said that the terminal operators and the shipping lines operating at the nation’s seaport do not value users of the ports, adding that terminal operators only recognise shipping companies.
Giving an insight into the face-off, he explained that: "We are here based on the issue that concerns freight forwarders in Nigeria, importers and also the transporters and stakeholders in the maritime industry. Well these issues we are having have been here it has been lingering over the years and nobody is doing anything about it. Last year this thing happened and this year it is happening again. The multinationals in Nigeria, the shipping companies and the terminal operators are taking us for granted. They don't see us as part and parcel of this industry, if you confront any of these terminal operators they will tell you that they don't know anything about us they only know shipping companies".
He reiterated that freight forwarders are losing their lives daily as a result of extortion and unhealthy business environment at the ports.
"I don't know anywhere in the world where freight forwarders are not recognised , it is only in Nigeria where such things happen. They will tell you that it is only shipping companies that they recognize. Our people are dying because of unsecured working environment check all over Lagos you will see containers on top of trucks they are using us", he lamented.
Explaining further, he fingered APM Terminal for inefficiency and inadequate equipment to operate at the terminal.
He also accused the terminal operator of sabotage and plot to continuously extort the operators.
"They are using the truck drivers as mobile holding bays because the containers will remain there for a long time; nowhere to drop the containers. There is no hospitality at the port where someone can go and rest, there is no where we can go to check our Blood Pressure (BP)if it is going up or down. AP Moller precisely they don't have facilities at all, they will work for two hours and they will stop work for another five hours and the account will be reading, they will be collecting money from our demurrages. These are the things we want the government to look into enough of all these injustice . A lot of wrong things are going on here and this is the biggest port in Nigeria and we are suffering"
"Our people are losing their relations in one way or the other, at times in a week we might not be able to go home to meet with our loved ones because of the situation on ground . All these things we are saying NO to them, these things must be addressed we are also calling on the ease of doing business committee to come down and know what is happening to our ports" he said.