By Chiazo Ogbolu
Lagos – The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) on Friday said the freight forwarding business was affected negatively by the operating environment and some government policies during the year.
The President of the association, Mr Increase Uche, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
According to him, freight forwarders are looking forward to 2020, hoping that the government will come up with policies to ensure a more condusive environment for businesses to grow.
“The freight forwarding environment has not been so friendly to freight forwarders and things have not been so easy right from the beginning of the year, being an election year.
“Businesses were somehow disjointed, government is yet to settle down, and policy issues are yet to assume normalcy.
“On the average, the freight forwarding business did not fare well as a result of all the policies that were not so favourable, which gave rise to an unstable environment that affected our businesses,” he said.
He noted that two issues that were so prominent during the year were the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and the border closure.
Uche pointed that stakeholders had tried to manage the border closure as managers of the supply chain, believing that the advantages of the border closure far outweighed the disadvantage.
He added that their concerns as regards border closure was its negative effect on members of the association, as most of them were put out of business and some dieing out of frustration.
He noted that another issue that affected its members was the closure of the Enugu airport for repairs.
The NAGAFF president said due to border closure, the sea port witnessed a kind of influx of imports but was challenged by the fact that the ports did not have the capacity to withstand the volume of cargos that was rerouted through the port.
“The terminals were overwhelmed this year and it really affected our businesses but we are looking forward to government coming up with new strategies that will boost our businesses next year.
“There is need for government to review the issue of border closure and evaluate what has taken place. If we have achieved the purpose of closing the border, if not, what needs to be done if the border is to remain closed.
“The operation of the seaports needs to be checked; infrastructure should be provided, port access roads need to be addressed and the issue of restriction of import on 43 items by the Central Bank of Nigeria should be looked into.
“Government should get the inland transport system working, connect the port by rail, open up inland transport water system through the use of barges.
“The Shippers Council should review the operations of the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) that is meant to create buffer for the port operation,” he said.
He pointed that freight forwarding operation was at the heart of the economy, hence the need for their operations to be enhanced.