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Freight forwarding associations dissociate from threat to shut down Tin Can Port

Members of the Concerned Accredited Freight
Forwarding Associations (CAFFA) have dissociated their associations from the
threat by some customs agents to embark on strike in Tin Can Island Port over
allegations of extortion and inefficiency leveled against officials of the
terminal operator.

In a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary, Dr Frank Ukor, the
associations said they found it “alarming that in this critical period in the
history of our great country, some groups of Nigerians would be contemplating
disrupting activities at the ports which come next to oil, as the cash cow of
the nation”.
Ukor described the threat as “archaic, retrogressive and constituting both
security threat and economic sabotage for a country facing serious security and
economic issues”.

The four associations urged all security agencies to “provide adequate security
at the ports, to thwart efforts by any group of people who may want to cause
chaos, and at the same time guarantee to safety of members of the port
community who may want to go about their normal duties without being molested
especially our members”.

The statement added, “It is amazing that this group of “Customs Agents” find it
convenient to castigate the TICT alone for an offence or offences which could
be said to be general or common with other terminal operators.

“As freight forwarders who are also at the receiving end of some of the
unwholesome activities of the Terminal operators, it is our belief that any
move to draw attention to these anomalies should not single out one or two
terminal operators alone, while we pretend that all is well with the other
terminal operators. Any action to resist these anomalies should not be
restricted to only one operator, but should be uniformly addressed. This smirks
of hypocrisy, double stand and selective persecution.

“ However, if one considers the current trend in the country, it is ill advised
to embark on any action that will heighten the already tense situation in the
country and threaten the economic progress of the country. 
“To us this threat to
disrupt activities at the ports is misdirected, irresponsible and uncharitable.
That a group of people will contemplate this now may have lend credence to the
reported speech of the Managing Director of the TICT, that “he could not sit
with riff-raff to dialogue”.
“We believe this is a pointer to
the fact that our sister Association is bent on giving our dear country a bad
image through their conducts which tend to present them a “riff-raff”.
“Interestingly, they are even
talking about change and also expecting change in the conduct of the terminal
operators. Like the lawyers will say “he who comes to equity must come with
clean hands”. Those calling for change, are they prepared to embrace change?

“We all must ensure we change from our past misdeeds, and resort to attitudinal
change. It is very astonishing that our sister Association still believes in
brute force, arm twisting, issuing of threats and blackmail to achieve their
aims. And they are talking about change.

“As for us in CAFFA, we have always believe in dialogue, communication,
consultation and persuasion which will lead to constructive partnership, needed
for the industry to flourish.

“We believe that what our country needs in this period of transition is
peaceful conduct, so as not to rock the boat.
“We are therefore using this
medium to call on our members to remain calm, and go about their normal
activities at the TICT as our leaders engage the terminal operators across the
country on how best to arrive at a junction that will be beneficial to our
country, and all those doing business at the Terminal and other entry points.
“At the same time, we urge all
the security agencies to provide adequate security at the ports, to thwart
efforts by any group of people who may wait to cause chaos, and at the same
time guarantee to safety of members of the port community who may want to go
about their normal duties without being molested especially our members.

“We use this medium to pledge our
unflinching support to the current Government and promise that we will do
everything within our power to ensure a peaceful atmosphere that will guarantee
that the Government taps to the fullest all the potentials in the industry.

“We also want to advice our sister Association to change from their old tactics
and approach to resolving industrial disputes, by developing capacity in the
application of constructive engagements, and respect to a constituted authority
at all times via, consultations, dialogue and communication with the
appropriate quarters.
“We observed with dismay name-calling by our sister Association aimed at
maligning some principal staff of TICT. This is uncalled for as these are
career officers who should not be distracted from carrying out their legitimate
duties. We believe any distraction is capable of ridiculing their professional

“After all, in the port industry today, an economic regulator is in place, they
have an obligation to the industry best practices, with respect to the issue
raised in their Press Release.

“Again, the relevant provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)
Convention are extant; the port industry is quite strategic and deserves the
application of due process when contemplating withdrawal of services by any
critical stakeholder in the port industry, in relation to “Notices” for such
“Again, our sister Association should equally, appreciate and pride
themselves as professionals in an Association and not a labour union as they
present themselves, by issuing strike threats or even embarking on strike at
every slightest provocation”.
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