By Ajibola Abayomi,
December 20, 2017
Freight forwarders have criticized the federal government’s January 1, 2018 scheduled date for the enforcement of guidelines on palletization.
Last month, the federal government had revealed its plan to implement the import and export guidelines particularly on palletization of cargoes.
Recall that the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, at a forum, had stated that full implementation of all import and export guidelines, particularly pallet system, would take effect in 2018.
The freight forwarders at a forum condemned the January 1 deadline due to lack of local shipping development in Nigeria.
The National President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, (NAGAFF), Mr. Increase Uche, called on the federal government to suspend the implementation date, arguing that the nation lacks a functional indigenous fleet.
“Our argument on palletization is that when you are at the international shipping convention and laws, it is in order. But looking at our peculiar environment, we don’t have the carrier capacity. We don’t have Nigerian sea going vessels as most of the vessels are foreign owned,” he said.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting organised by the Nigerian Shippers Council in Lagos, Increase posited that the federal government’s move would further deplete Nigeria’s foreign reserve.
“Again, the moment we start palletizing, the number containers coming into Nigeria will rise without a corresponding increase in tonnage. The volume will increase. And our exchange control system is not healthy.
“On each container, freight paid on it is separate. The money that was supposed to be paid on one container will be multiplied by four. And the money paid in dollars. Do you know what that means, it will deplete our foreign reserve and I must say its very risky to our economy,” Increase said.
“We don’t have scanners for the time being, no proper arrangement to ease up manual examination. Secondly, are they providing forklifts that would be an alternative to scanners. Forklifts can pull out the pallets out of the container for examination.
“The volume of cargoes will not increase but number of containers will. With average freight of $5,000 per container, more hard currency will be expended importing the same tonnage of goods and it is our foreign reserves will suffer it,” he stated.
His statement came shortly after the Area Controller of Tin Can Island Port Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr. Yusuf Bashar, had extolled government on the palletization plan.
Addressing participants at the meeting, the Customs boss said it was sheer grace that enabled men of the command to intercept the volume of arms from the same source.
“You know the importer concealed the guns with steel doors. Also, the recent container intercepted carrying cocaine worth N20 billion was concealed with white cement which had same colour with the cocaine. It was mere grace that gave us that success because the cargoes in container were not palletized.
“If all containerised cargoes are palletized, examination will be easy. We therefore encourage freight forwarders, importers and shippers to embrace palletization of their cargoes,” Bashar said.