Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has been called upon to prevail on the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Customs Service to drop the application of Pre Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) and Form ‘M’ on cargoes coming into the country through the airports.
Air cargo, according to freight forwarders who are members of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics on Nigeria (APFFLON), cannot afford the luxury of time to undergo the bureaucracy of Form M and PAAR as their application would further hamper a quick cargo clearance and lead to high demurrage charges by cargo handlers.
The National President of APFFLON, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite made the call in a letter the association wrote to the Vice President, noting that the current system known as Procedure Code 4900 is faster and efficient for clearance of airport cargoes which are mostly medical equipments, crucial production materials for manufacturers, essential raw materials as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) materials to combat COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
‘’Air freight forwarders also face the challenge of exorbitant charges as storage to the ground handling companies with the introduction of ‘Form M’ and PAAR and the consequent delays.
‘’The air cargo sector is already overburdened having being made to pay charges for storage of consignments to ground handling companies as Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) insisted on demurrage charges for goods uncleared as well as consignments which arrived during the lockdown.
‘’Freight agents were unable to access the airports to clear the cargoes as they complied with the Federal Government stay home order for more than one month, yet when we resumed, the ground handling companies still demanded charges for the lockdown period.
‘’Your Excellency, let us also draw your attention to the fact that both companies also recently increased their charges arbitrarily by 40%, a decision which saw APFFLON drag NAHCO and SAHCO to the Federal High Court, Lagos and the matter is still pending.
‘’Given the disposition of NAHCO and SAHCO to increase their charges frivolously, the nation, particularly those operating at the airports and dependants on such services, would suffer colossal charges and delays if the Form M and PAAR is allowed to prevail at the airports by the end of June 2020.
‘’Since aviation consignments are timely, light and essential, we implore you to kindly use your good office to persuade the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Service to jettison plans to introduce this fiscal policy that would be detrimental to Nigerians,’’ said APFFLON President.
The association, however, recommended review Code 4900 and streamline challenges associated with the Code 4900 platform and charged the Nigeria Customs Service to engage stakeholders, particularly freight forwarders on the need to comply with the expeditious 4900 system.
The APFFLON assured the Vice President that all its members across the country would support the government and all its agencies in the airports to achieve revenue generation, safety, trade facilitation, among others.