Importers condemn suspension of cargo flights to MMIA

Importers who receive their goods at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos have lamented the suspension of cargo flights into the airport.

The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had on Friday suspended cargo flights into the MMIA due to what it called congestion at the cargo terminal.

FAAN had asked the importers to consider the use of alternative ports around the country, adding that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency had been advised to issue a notice to airmen to that effect.

It said in a statement, “This (suspension of cargo flights) has become imperative due to the congestion created by the backlog of cargo following the two-week closure of the terminal by the Nigeria Customs Service.

“The Authority has initiated measures to accelerate the clearance of these goods and return the situation to normalcy. Airlines and importers are advised to make use of alternative airports.”

However, some importers who spoke yesterday stated that the decision to suspend the flights did not take their interest into consideration and would end up increasing their burdens.

They blamed the Federal Government for not taking a decisive action to resolve the crisis that led to the closure of the cargo terminal by the NCS in the first place.

Mr. Ignatius Nwoke, said that the suspension of cargo flights would increase the importers’ fees and expenditures.

He said, “I do not think it is the best decision that should have been taken, it will increase our suffering. The truth remains that there are other ways the government could have gone about this; for instance, they can give orders that the goods that have been detained should be cleared before a given period.

“Do you know what it means for me to have to go to another state to clear my goods when I live and do business in Lagos? It will mean that I have to incur extra costs and what of the discomfort of having to transport goods across two states? The money that one could have put into something else will now be diverted to another thing due to no fault of ours, it is rather unfortunate.”

Another importer, Mr. Uche Nwobodoeze, said the government appeared insensitive to the plight of importers and that the decision was killing business in the country.

He said, “The problem is when two elephants are fighting it is the grass that suffers. We were still trying to grapple with the fact that they were charging us for demurrage for goods held down at the cargo terminal, only for the government to add to our plight by telling us to consider taking our goods elsewhere.

“It doesn’t show a government that cares for its citizens; we are trying to do our genuine business here, but they are doing everything to discourage our efforts. I think they can do better than what they have done.” 

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