The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) have raised cargo processing charges by 100%, sparking a halt in export activities, particularly at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) cargo section.
This move comes at a time when Nigeria is struggling to boost its export potential, with airlines leaving the country without exportable goods and the country losing billions of dollars in foreign exchange earnings every year. The handling companies have defended the price adjustment, citing economic realities, while exporters and affected agents have pushed back, seeking a reversal to the old rates.
Apart from mails, which topped cargo net export in 2021, Nigeria saw a drop in the export of agricultural produce due to high rates of rejections and prohibitions overseas.
This has been attributed to poor packaging, documentation, and alleged noncompliance with acceptable standards. While regulators blame exporters for the failure of due diligence, operators push back on regulatory bottlenecks, multiple charges, extortions, and the high cost of freight. The latest price hike by NAHCO and SAHCO has tightened the cost of freight further.
Members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Lagos Airport, Ikeja, have condemned the handling companies’ actions and have vowed to resist the “unilateral” price review. They argue that the new charges are insensitive and will add to the suffering of the masses.
ANLCA has called on the government to intervene and rescue the suffering masses. In a joint memo, NAHCO and SAHCO informed travel agencies that the final rates’ adjustment was affected in line with aviation standards, and all relevant stakeholders recognised, including government agencies and the regulator, were duly consulted.
However, ANLCA has claimed that the last increment was just less than three years ago and had sent many agents out of business, and the new adjustment would further worsen the plight of agents.