NAHCO, SAHCO defend 100% hike in cargo charges as clearing agents kick



Posted by Sade Williams


The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO), on Friday said  the 100 percent increase in tariff was effectuated in line with aviation standard as all relevant stakeholders recognised by law including government agencies and the regulator were duly consulted.

The ground handlers in a joint response letter to Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) notice of protest, said they ‘have also complied with the relevant provisions of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s four main principles on increase in charges for Airport and Air Navigation Service providers as contained in ICAO Doc 9082, which are: Cost recovery, Transparency, Consultation with users and Non-Discrimination.

The letter obtained by The Travel Port, was dated 28 April, 2023 and signed by Boma Ukwunna for SAHCO and Saheed Lasisi for NAHCO.

ANLCA had notified its members in a general notice signed by Segun Fashina, not to enter into the terminal to clear goods but gather at the secretariat on April 28 to protest the 1000 percent increase.

On Thursday, the members made do their threat and refused to enter the terminal to clear goods.The increment showed that general cargo /bank consignment charges per kilogram rose from N63. 30 to N130. 6, the demurage charge per kilogram also went up from N13 to N26 while re-registration was pegged at N15, 000 from N4, 420 among others.

Addressing journalists over their plights, the Vice Chairman of ANLCA MMIA, Davies Ben Chukwunenye, who spoke on behalf of all agents across the country condemned the actions of the handling companies describing it as insensitive and an attempt to add to the sufferings of the masses

Davies explained that in second week of February 2023, the ground handlers sent a circular to the executive of ANLCA intruducing an upward review of 300 percent on their handling and other charges which they declared highly insensitive as a result of the current economic harsh situation in the country as Nigerians were struggling to survive

He remarked that all attempts to make the handlers understand that it was ill timed to effect an increase was not considered adding, that the last increment was less than three years.

ANLCA Vice Chairman said the intervention of their executives led to a downward review of 100 percent which he said was against trade dispute all over the world to have a100 percent increment

Davies explained that the previous increase has sent many agents out of business as they could not cope with the situation lamenting that this will further add to the plights of agents

He said the handling companies informed them that there was galloping inflation in the country

He condemned the poor facilities provided by the management of NAHCO saying that it was commiserate with the charges being paid by ANLCA members regretting the absence of waiting room and convinience for members

Davies further revealed that ANLCA members bear the brunts of customers damaged cargoes especially those affected by water as a result of water logged cargo shed of NAHCO

He called on the government to come to their rescue and save the suffering masses saying that Association has written to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to intervene as the industry’s regulator but no response from the regulator.

But the ground handlers insisted they  have held several meetings with all critical stakeholders and various associations of Freight Forwarders and Brokers in the industry over the matter.

“During the engagements and numerous conversations held with the stakeholders, it was collectively agreed that there is need to ensure compensation for services rendered as a way of cost recovery for operations and such must enhance safety, efficiency, and security of our collective operations and the airport environment.

“Consequently, it was suggested that the Ground Handlers should amongst other things come up with competitive rates that to a large extent match up with the integral cost of operations and that are commensurate with what obtains in other West African countries. This was intensively considered by all parties. Through consultative engagements, ANLCA through its executive and key players demanded the Ground Handlers to shift the dates of implementing the said agreement and which we graciously acceded despite the huge cost involved in having to adjust and readjust our operating systems which occurred over three or four times. We consciously aligned in the spirit of progressive partnership, engagements, consultations, and collaborations.

‘On the 17th of April 2023, we had a meeting with all the relevant stakeholders, consequent upon which an agreement was jointly executed on the 19th of April 2023 where it was collectively agreed that the ultimate effective date for the implementation of the 100% increase is Monday 24th of April 2023. We were therefore shocked and taken aback that having achieved the above millage based on thorough justifications regarding the current economic realities, your members still went ahead, staging a protest for a matter that has already been concluded/resolved.

“We would like to put on record that since the two Ground Handling Companies have done due diligence and followed the laid down procedures in arriving at the increment, SAHCO and NAHCO will no longer be liable for any loss/demurrage from the no work action staged by some of your members.”, the letter reads in part.

While calling on the agents to sheat their swords, the companies revealed that they have on records that some freight forwarders/brokers have been willingly clearing shipments/cargo from their warehouses since Tuesday at the new rates, adding that they should respect the clear terms of our agreement.

“Our warehouses are wide open for business in the usual operating standard/requirements, and we will continue to do so in line with our mandate and the relevant laws in other to serve you even better than ever.”, it added.

Also, sources from the ground handling companies told our correspondent that  fuel has increased for their operations vehicles and equipment.

One of the companies noted that staff agitated in January and their salaries were adjusted upwards, adding the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has increased the cost of Apron pass from N150, 000 to N200,000 per annum and per per equipment.

“For instance, we have nothing less than 750 equipment, FAAN has increased the cost of e-Tag from N12,500 to N25,000 per car per annum. We would be buying more than 500 for both staff and official vehicles. On Duty Cards (ODC) cost has increased from N5,000 to N10,000 per ODC. We will do ODC for more than 2,950 staff. FAAN has also increased the cost of electricity to our facilities.

“They have increased the cost of one off gate fee we pay for our fuel dump at the airside from N150,000 to N300,000” , a source close to one of the ground handlers said.





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