The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) called for freight forwarders to be fully accommodated in the scheme of things, especially during the period of the lockdown of Lagos and Ogun states, which however does not affect operations at the two seaports in Lagos.
Recall that, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Sunday ordered total restriction of movements in Lagos and Ogun states, as a measure of curtailing the spread of Coronavirus. The President, had in the broadcast, directed that the restriction would not affect port operations.
Indications emerged that the resolve to initiate the advocacy for unhindered movement of freight forwarders by the CRFFN was arrived at after an online meeting between the management of the Council and a cross section of leaders of freight forwarders. The meeting was held on Monday March 30, 2020.
The CRFFN, in response to modalities for port operations and involvement of freight forwarders in line with restriction on movements of persons and cargo clearance in the ports, consequently wrote to the Lagos State Government, the Nigerian Ports Authourity, the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigeria Police, and others seeking for adequate consideration for the practitioners.
In the letter, the CRFFN appealed to the Governor of Lagos State; Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the need to allow freight forwarders to have unhindered movement across the state during the lockdown of the state on account of the pandemic Coronavirus; CONVID-19.
In the letter, the CRFFN notified the Governor that, freight forwarders are essential part of the supply chain, who will need to move unhindered, even during the lockdown.
In the letter that was signed by the CRFFN Registrar; Barrister Samuel Nwakohu, the Council said that the request was in line with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari on the total lockdown of the state, and that during this period, freight forwarders would be performing their roles.
“Accordingly, and in support of your spirited efforts, to contain COVID-19 epidemic, we request the unhindered movement of these service providers be captured in the state’s strategic agenda”, the letter added.
In its letter to the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA), the CRFFN said since President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the ports should not be part of the lockdown, it has become imperative for freight forwarders to perform their roles in the supply chain.
The CRFFN also requested that the NPA managing director wrote to relevant agencies of government to facilitate unfettered operations by freight forwarders.
“Accordingly, the Council will appreciate memo from your good office to Police AIG Maritime and terminal operators in respect of the to cooperate with and support freight forwarders in their critical role of ensuring that the supply chain suffers no set back at this critical time of our national economy”, the letter stressed.
The Council however called for the observance of social distancing in transactions in the ports in the interest of all stakeholders.
In line with the quest for social distancing, even in the cargo clearance, the CRFFN also in another letter to the Nigeria Customs Service, called on the service’s Comptroller General; Col Hameed Ali(rtd) to ensure that cargo clearance process in the ports is in compliance with the social distancing norm.
Specifically, the CRFFN also requested the Commissioner of Police to allow unhindered movement of freight forwarders during the period of lockdown of Lagos.
Meanwhile, there are indications that both the CRFFN and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council are making arrangement for shuttle vehicle that will convey freight forwarders from strategic places in Lagos to Apapa.
Sources hinted that the evolving shuttle arrangement have been endorsed by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council; Mr Hassan Bello and his CRFFN counterpart; Mr Samuel Nwakohu.
The bus-route as agreed are:Ikorodu-Keri- Maryland- Apapa, Badagry-Trade fair -Iyana Iba - Mike 2- Apapa, Ikotun - Ejigbo -cele – Apapa, Ojuelegba- Stadium - Costain - Ijora- Apapa, Ajah - Lekki - Marina- Apapa, Ogba - Ikeja -Maryland- Apapa. There will also be shuttle bus within Apapa and Tin Can.